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Website of the Week — National Biological Information Infrastructure

Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations. This time, it's a virtual encyclopedia, an online resource for all kinds of information about plants and animals: the National Biological Information Infrastructure, at

KASE: " is something that you could think of as a website, but that would be to seriously underrate it. I think of NBII as more of a global initiative with a lot of people who are cooperatively using technology to use ways to address natural resource challenges around the world."

That's NBII program manager Kate Kase. The website was developed when officials realized they were spending a huge amount of money to collect information and needed an efficient way to get that data out to researchers, farmers, conservationists and others. Partly, Kase says, the idea was to avoid duplication.

KASE: "And also, there are conclusions to be drawn, decisions that are made based on the science, and if you don't have as much of the science as possible available to you, then the conclusions might not always be as good as they could be."

The scope of NBII is vast: information about fisheries, resources for teachers, an image library, and exhaustive coverage of issues such as biodiversity, the health of coral reefs, and bird migration.

KASE: "We have data and information from a lot of different organizations regarding the migratory species themselves, the migratory routes that they take, impediments to migration, and tools that you can use — for example, a geographic interface that allows you to take data layers from different sources and put them on a map, so that you can see how different factors interact with each other."

Much of the information is specific to the United States, but there is a lot of material that transcends national boundaries, such as the section that Annie Simpson manages on invasive species.

SIMPSON: “They cause great harm ecologically, economically, or even to human health. So NBII is emphasizing this because it's so important in many different places — around the world and around the nation."

There's a lot more biology to discover at the National Biological Information Infrastructure website at, or get the link from our site,