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The following databases contain information collected by research scientists and governmental organizations from around the world. Each of these databases can be used with a minimal amount of GIS knowledge. They are an excellent source of information on common themes found in biology and environmental science, such as population growth, biodiversity, climate, geology, hydrology, energy, climate change, and conservation. They are also an excellent source for teaching students about data collection and analysis. Feel free to join this spaces and post lesson ideas and/or links to other online databases. For more information on GIS, software packages and shape files that can be downloaded and analyzed by students, see the GIS data page.
The use of these database in a classroom environment may tax your school's network capabilities, as many of the GIS databases listed here stream data over the Internet. In order to promote successful use of these databases, it is suggested that you consult with your school's network administrator. Here are some suggested questions you should ask:
Questions Before You Start
What are the computer system requirements for this software (e.g. RAM, Processor Speed, and Storage Space)?
What software will be needed to open a data set?
Is the information downloaded or served over a network?
Will your network connection handle 20 students (or more) streaming the data?
What backup plan do I have if the computers don’t work?
1. What types of data are being stored in these databases?
2. What organizations are responsible for maintaining the data and administering quality controls on the data?
3. What technology is used to collected the data?
4. What is the geographic range, size, distribution, and age structure of the species found in these databases?
5. What abiotic factors (e.g. temperature, salinity, pressure, alkalinity, acidity, humidity) are monitored in these databases and why are they considered important?
6. Which of the organisms found in these databases are threatened or endangered?
7. How are human activities are affecting the status of these organisms?
Online Database Links
Atlas of the Cryosphere from the National Snow and Ice Database -
Carbon Monitoring for Action -
Census of Marine Life -
Conservation GeoPortal -
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Database -
EarthTrends: Environmental Information Portal -
Global Invasive Species Database -
Global Seismic Monitor -
Interactive Weather Database System -
The National Map -
National Pesticide Use Database -
National Wilderness Preservation System Database -
Ocean Biographic Information System
Red List of Threatened Species -
UN Population Information Network -
USGS Fault Database -
WildFinder - World Wildlife Fund Database -
World Glacier Inventory -
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