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  1. The California Natural Diversity Database

  2. What is the CNDDB? It is a continually updated, computerized inventory of information on the locations and status of California’s rarest plants, animals, and natural communities

  3. The blueprint used to set up the CNDDB was developed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). • TNC developed programs in all 50 states, Canada and several Latin American countries. Most were turned over to state and local governments. • This international Heritage Network is now administered by an organization called NatureServe.

  4. Definitions • Element: A plant, animal, or natural community tracked by the heritage program. • Occurrence: The specific location(s) where an element is known to occur. • EO = Element Occurrence, the places where an element is found.

  5. Definitions (con’t) • Element Occurrence Definition: What constitutes a feature on the map? Answer: Breeding locality, resident population, identified patches of plants or vegetation. Separation Distance: 0.25 mi.

  6. What is the separation distance between different CNDDB element occurrences? • The California Heritage Program, the CNDDB, uses the “1/4 mile rule” as the default separation distance. • Depending on the biology of the species, some animal species may have separation distances that stray from the default ¼ mile rule. Ex. Swainson hawk nests are mapped where they occur, regardless of separation distance.

  7. What do we track in the CNDDB? • State and/or Federally listed species or candidates for listing. • California Species of Special Concern • Federal Species of Concern

  8. Species with very limited distributions • Species recommended for inclusion on the list by recognized experts. • Special biological “situations” Pansy monkeyflower Delta smelt Winteringsites Rookeries

  9. Natural Communities – both terrestrial and aquatic. Vernal Pool Bristlecone Pine Forest

  10. The CNDDB is a positive sighting database • We do not predict where an element might occur; we report only where an element has been documented to occur. • No provision for recording negative data – except at sites where the element has been previously found.

  11. There may be sites with significant resources that have never been surveyed and no one has data. Absence of data in the CNDDB does not mean that no sensitive species occur on a site.

  12. We currently have 2,166 plants on the “Special Plants” list and 827 animals on the “Special Animals” list. • As of June 2007 we have over 54,300 EO’s in the CNDDB

  13. Where do we get our information? • Museum and herbarium records and the literature

  14. Biological Consultants • DFG and other agency biologists • Conservation groups (CNPS, Audubon, etc) • Other biologists

  15. What is the CNDDB? (con’t) • CNDDB combines different sources referring to a single feature on the ground into one element occurrence. All work is quality-controlled and all source documents are databased and filed for easy access. • Each element occurrence record should include information on location, ecology, threats, condition of the site, ownership, and references. • All original source documents are associated with the appropriate element occurrences and are filed and stored at the CNDDB for later reference.

  16. What type of information do we use? • Museum and herbarium records • Published literature • Unpublished reports • Environmental documents • Field survey forms • Personal communications • Digital data

  17. The CNDDB enters data using: • ESRI’s ARC/INFO software in combination with Arc 9 • SQL Server relational database • Running on PC’s using WindowsXP Microsoft SQL Server

  18. How can our information be used? • Preparing environmental documents • What is already known from this or adjacent areas • Who did the work and when • Other tools to consider using include the CNPS Online Inventory for plants and CWHR for animals to generate a “potentials” list for environmental work • Reviewing environmental documents • Did they miss any sensitive species? • Make sure the report does not use lack of information in the CNDDB as the basis for a negative declaration

  19. Federal and State Listing priority setting, petition development, and review • Critical Habitat designation • Recovery Plans

  20. Internal project review • Prescribed burns • Restoration work • Chemical treatments, etc • Planning • Individual field work • Contract work • Multi-agency cooperative ventures • Conservation planning efforts (HCP’s and NCCP’s)

  21. What types of information are available from the CNDDB? • General information - FREE • List of Special Animals or Special Plants, Bryophytes, and Lichens • List of State and Federal T&E species • Annual Report on Status of State T&E species • Reports on Species of Special Concern • CNDDB Quick Viewer on the internet, generates lists of rare taxa by quad or county • BIOS Public Viewer – useful for general geographic questions about California; contains a few biological data sets, though no sensitive ones

  22. Information available via subscription: • CNDDB specific locality information via: • RareFind 3 – a PC application allowing complex queries of CNDDB data and multiple reporting options • CNDDB and Spotted Owl Viewer in BIOS • Map overlays • Standard scale is the USGS 7.5’ topo map • Different sizes of circles & polygons are a function of the quality of the original data

  23. Graphic Accuracy Classes • Specific bounded area w/an 80m radius • Specific bounded area • Non-specific bounded area • Circle w/ a 150m radius (1/10 mile) • Circle w/ a 300m radius (1/5 mile) • Circle w/ a 600m radius (2/5 mile) • Circle w/ a 1000m radius (3/5 mile) • Circle w/ a 1300m radius (4/5 mile) • Circle w/ a 1600m radius (1 mile) • Circle w/ a 8000m radius (5 miles)

  24. Graphic Accuracy Classes

  25. Graphic Accuracy Classes

  26. Larger sized circles do not indicate a larger range for the element! The bigger the circle, the less precise the source data

  27. Text Reports– available either through RareFind or BIOS - Scientific and Common Name - Federal & State status • Global & State ranks • General and Specific habitat associations • Date of observation • Location • Name of observer • Ecological comments, habitat quality, • population size, threats (when given) • Occurrence rank (A-D or X) • References

  28. Occurrence ranksA way to estimate site and population quality and viability • Excellent – A • Good – B • Fair – C • Poor – D • Extirpated – X • Unknown – U A B C D X

  29. Element Ranks- a shorthand code describing an element’s rarity and threat • G1 - G5:Worldwide condition of the full species, from extremely rare to very common • T1 - T5:Condition of the subspecies. • S1 - S5:Statewide condition of the species or subspecies – extremely rare to very common • _.1, _.2, _.3: A decimal of .1 represents the most threatened elements; .2 indicates intermediate threat and .3 represents the least threatened

  30. Yuma Clapper Rail: G5T3S1 • G5 - Rallus longirostris is common in North American coastal salt marshes and the range extends down into South America • T3 – R. l. yumanensis is rare and has a restricted range within Mexico, Arizona, and California • S1 – This subspecies is found only along the Colorado River and is extremely rare within California

  31. RareFind • PC application of the CNDDB • Programmed in Microsoft Visual FoxPro; we provide a runtime application • Allows complex queries of the data set and a flexible interface with ArcGIS, other GIS software, BIOS • Free to DFG staff – provided on a subscription basis to all others • Price is $300 / $200

  32. What can you do with RareFind? • Simple queries • Locations for species “X” • Plants and Animals on quad “Y” • Complex queries • Combinations of taxonomy, status, counties, threats, habitat, etc. • Export results to BIOS or to ArcGIS • Print reports

  33. Multiple reporting options • Full reports • Source reports • Create reports as Word or pdf documents

  34. GIS Options with RareFind • CNDDB ArcView/ArcGIS project included on the CD • View the data spatially • Do analyses • Sort data • Make maps, etc. • CNDDB ArcView/ArcGIS extension provides an import / export function between the text data in RareFind and the GIS data in ArcView • CNDDB and Spotted Owl Viewer in BIOS

  35. Specific suggestions for foresters • For potentials lists, err on the broader rather than the more narrow side. Never think your list is complete by searching a single quad. At a minimum, search your project quad plus the eight surrounding quads in developing a list. • If making a map, make sure you or your GIS staff use the polygon layer and not the point layer, unless you are producing a very small scale map, such as 1:100,000,000. The points are not more accurate than the polygons!

  36. Point versus polygon layer

  37. For plants, perform floristic surveys in the field, not targeted surveys. Use the potentials lists as a “red flag” guide only. • Use both the GIS layer and the text; the maps only tell half of the story. You need the text to clarify historical versus extant sites, etc. • RareFind includes a “HELP” button with lots of useful information, including a tutorial on how to use basic functions of the program. • If rare species are discovered during field work, turn in a field survey form and map to the CNDDB. Use our online field survey form. For simple text updates to occurrence records, save time by copying the relevant page from the RareFind report and annotate and send it to the CNDDB. • Remember to refresh or update your CNDDB data every month using the provided password. There is a convenient link on the CNDDB website to do this.

  38. Additional Sources • Paper files at CNDDB • Original field survey forms backing up occurrences at CNDDB • CNDDB online Quick Viewer • CNDDB or BDB website • BIOS – CNDDB/Spotted Owl Viewer

  39. Sources and References • BDB website: • Natureserve website: • Natureserve Explorer: • CNPS website: • Emails for future questions:,, (GIS questions)

  40. More CNDDB Information • For RareFind 3 CD - email request to: - call Information Services: 916-322-2943 • FTP downloads for RareFind data and GIS components - Call for password – updated monthly