The Nature Conservancy coined this term in the United States. An element is a unit of natural biological diversity. Elements represent species (or infra-specific taxa), natural communities, or other non-taxonomic biological entities (e.g. migratory species aggregation areas, bat hibernacula).Back to Top
An Element Occurrence (EO) is an area of land and/or water in which an Element is, or was, present. Each Element Occurrence is a feature with some conservation significance. The SKCDC stores information on EOs in a database and this information is available through HABISask, an online mapping application.Back to Top
One can consider an occurrence as being analogous to a population: more or less a group of non-regularly-interbreeding individuals of a species in a particular geographic area. In reality, scientists are almost never able to define a population (for reasons including unknown dispersal distances, breeding patterns, etc.), so the term occurrence is used instead of population.
With largely immobile plants (though we have to consider propagule dispersal), we typically use a distance of 1.6 km to separate occurrences. With mobile animals it is much more difficult, and cannot even be defined by group (e.g. the definition of an EO for Prothonotary Warbler is going to be very different from that of a Bald Eagle).
For many species (particularly those that are rare range-wide) the definition of an occurrence is defined globally by The Nature Conservancy (this function now assumed by NatureServe) so that all Data Centres define an occurrence for the same species in the same way. For species that don't yet have globally defined element occurrence specifications, biologists at the SKCDC use their own and other's expertise (often based on similar species which have defined global specifications) to determine occurrence specifications.
View an overview of the Element Occurrence Data Standard at NatureServe.org.Back to Top
The observation location of every species can be, and usually is, different. This is a function of habitat preference, locational uncertainty, survey technique and the observer. If you are a fish it’s likely you’ll be living in water, if you’re a bird you may live in a tree. If you are a prairie dog you will live in a colony covering a much larger area than if you were swift fox living in a den. When compared against the basemaps we use, these observations can be simple points, polygons or linear features. As well multiple source features may make up one EO which in turn allows for yet another shape.Back to Top
Observational data contains varying levels of imprecision. Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers may vary from mere centimeters up to 5 to 10m depending on quality. Prior to GPS, locational uncertainty was even higher. Locations may have been made to the quarter-section but they may also have been to the nearest landmark. This level of spatial uncertainty is captured in the boundaries reflected in our Element Occurrences. The locational uncertainty is intended to be the smallest possible area that captures the initial observation based on the information provided to the SKCDC.Back to Top
Separating EO’s by suitable/unsuitable habitat is necessary to delineate demographically and genetically discrete occurrences or populations. Many species distribution characteristics are predictable but some are not. Regardless of data available on any given species there is no single correct way, but instead a variety of factors considered to properly separate populations. Factors include: spatial and temporal patterns of distribution, home range sizes, dispersal characteristics, preferred and available community and habitat types and anthropological barriers.Back to Top
The subnational or S-rank is used to categorize a taxon by its risk of extirpation. Ranks are calculated following a standardized procedure set out by NatureServe, taking into account not only rarity, but also trends and threats. Ranks range from an S1 to an S5, where an S1 is at a high risk of extirpation. See our ranking methodology section for more information.Back to Top
The SKCDC prioritizes taxa for ranking based on a five-year rotation. See our ranking methodology section for more information.Back to Top
The names and classifications given to Saskatchewan taxa are standardized in order for the SKCDC to be consistent with other jurisdictions. The SKCDC generally follows the standards set out by NatureServe, which lists standards for both animals and plants. It should be noted that while the convention for plants is currently Kartesz, NatureServe’s advisory committee has recently recommended using the Flora of North America as the standard for vascular and non-vascular plants at the genus and species level.
Taxonomy is a dynamic, not a static, field, resulting in ever-shifting classifications and naming based on the best available information. Previously, classification was often the result of morphological, behavioral, or distributive study of taxa. As molecular research becomes more sophisticated and widespread, new and better information is emerging regarding the evolutionary relationships between taxa. Phylogenetic studies may show that a particular taxon should be its own distinct genus, that it should be lumped with an existing group, or that it is not a distinct species but rather a subspecies of an existing species. All of these situations result in a name change for the taxon in question, reflecting the best available information for its classification.Back to Top
Please refer to the "Submit Data" page of the SKCDC's website to find the appropriate loadform for filling out your wildlife observations. Data loadforms can be submitted by e-mail to SKCDC.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that if you have already submitted your data to the research permit office, it will be forwarded to the SKCDC.Back to Top
CDC wants legitimate and accurate observations of any wild species. The more information submitted along with the observations the better.
We need to know…
Submitted data is stored appropriately so the Zoologist or Botanist may access it as needed. The data will then be uploaded, common or tracked, onto the Kestrel database. Kestrel is a data management system that can bulk upload species sightings quickly and efficiently. The next step is to map all tracked species in the Biotics database, also an information management system. Biotics uses the Natural Heritage methodology that enables users to standardize occurrences and in turn allows for authoritative data. We make our data available to the public through the CDC website in a variety of formats. The data available on the Ministry of Environment Interactive Mapping system is an ArcGIS service that provides a read-only access to our dataset.Back to Top
The most common data provided to the Conservation Data Centre (CDC) is observational data. This data is used for a number of purposes: firstly, to inform the assessment of status (SRanking, National General Status, COSEWIC); secondly, to map areas of conservation significance (Element Occurrences) to provide business intelligence to decision makers; and thirdly, in value added products such as range maps, atlases, lists and other projects.
Where there are concerns for the security of the species or other limited reasons we can prevent the release of the direct observational information. Products which blur the location, such as ecoregional lists or range maps, would still be published with the information included.Back to Top
Sensitive Data is any data that would pose a risk to species or parties involved if released to the public.Back to Top
Listed below are a variety of reasons to why data would be designated as sensitive…
Data comes to the Conservation Data Centre in a number of formats. Historically, we have received emails, telephone calls and a variety of paper-based reports (e.g. Conservation Officer Incident Reports, Environmental Assessment Reports). This form of report requires CDC staff to find the location in our GIS system, map the location and then transcribe the relevant information into an appropriate record. This is a time consuming process involving confirmation of location, confirmation of species identification and transcription of varying amounts of information.
Recently, we’ve introduced a new observation management system, Kestrel, that allows us to map observations more quickly than previously. One of our new abilities is to provide load-forms that we hope will drastically reduce the time required to process observations by getting users to provide us information in a standard format. Once in Kestrel it will be much easier to use these observations in any of the value-added products provided the CDC.Back to Top
SKCDC's data entry process involves quality checking of each record. The identification of the species is verified and the location of the observation is checked using maps. For each new record, it must be evaluated whether the record should constitute a new Element Occurrence (EO), or should be incorporated into an observation of an existing EO.
SKCDC staff also assign an accuracy code to every EO co-ordinate pair in order to reflect the best approximation of each location. The date the EO was last observed is updated whenever new information becomes available. If you notice any errors or discrepancies with SKCDC's data, please contact the appropriate SKCDC staff person to report your concern.Back to Top
SKCDC's Element Occurrence (EO) data is the product of the review and quality checking of many data sources. Personal accounts of rare species are reported to SKCDC and incorporated into the database. The majority of the EO data comes from existing data sets.
The sources for the Natural Areas in SKCDC's Natural Areas database are also varied. These include natural area inventories, consultant reports, International Biological Programme reports, wetland evaluations and others. The SKCDC records the source of the data in the databases for both EO's and Natural Areas.Back to Top
Detailed species information is maintained by the SKCDC in order to afford protection to the species. Rare species data is treated as sensitive, and is only disseminated on a "need-to- know" basis.
The SKCDC has two levels of data access: general user and detailed user. General Users access the application without a sign-in account and have access to locality information and level of rarity. Detailed users have read and understand the SKCDC Training Manual and have signed a Data Sharing Agreement with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment.
If you are interested in obtaining a detailed user account for HABISask, please follow the instructions outlined on the SKCDC's HABISask page.Back to Top
Element occurrences consist of two components. This first is the observed (source) feature. Depending on the type of occurrence, an observed feature can be a point, a line or a polygon. Examples might include a ferruginous hawk nest (point), a stream segment containing bigmouth buffalo spawning beds (line), or a lake or bay used by staging shorebirds (polygon).
The location of an observed feature is determined on the basis of information that is often incomplete or imperfect. The quality of the information may vary due to a number of factors. Consequently, the recorded location may vary from the true location reflecting a measure of spatial uncertainty.
The second component is the representational polygon, the polygon you see. This polygon incorporates the spatial uncertainty and the observed feature to build a polygon representing the area within which the element occurrence is known to occur. The occurrence is somewhere within the representational polygon rather than everywhere within the polygon.Back to Top