The Environmental Information System (SinBiota) gathers and integrates information produced by researchers in programs associated with the Biota-FAPESP Program, enabling the distribution of catalogued species on a high-quality digital cartographic database. This cartographic database is being developed jointly by the Campinas State University (Unicamp) and the Forestry Institute. Maps of the State of São Paulo on the relief, drainage network, vegetation and climate will be stored in it on a scale of 1:50,000 and the Conservation Units on a scale of 1:10,000. The link between the Program’s Database and the cartographic database will enable users to view the geographical distribution of the collection points of each species and more. All this information will available to the public, from March on, at the address sinbiota.biota.org.br.
In partnership with the University of Kansas, responsible for the Species Analyst project, which is studying biodiversity in North America and Brazil, SinBiota is developing tools to enable the preparation of models for the distribution of species. The system uses generic algorithms that analyze points such as climate, soil, etc., in order to build the model of the niche in which a given species develops. “Based on this, the system looks for similar niches, making it possible to pick out to areas where specific viruses, vegetables or animals are able to develop”, says Carlos Alfredo Joly, coordinator of the Biota and the SinBiota Programs. “Through this, we will be capable, for example, to anticipate the effect of a climate change on the development of the species”. Monitoring 168 taxonomic groups in the State will be an essential tool for establishing priorities in conserving biodiversity and defining public environmental policy.
The information system being developed in partnership with the University of Kansas is a project for the Internet 2. “It demands online analysis and consultation of libraries and collections in the United States”, says Joly. SinBiota, The Sinbiotia, he compares, represents gigabytes (one billion bytes) of information. “When the program becomes part of the Species Analyst, and rounds up information on herbariums, museums, etc., the volume of information will rise to terabytes (one trillion bytes).”
SinBiota uses a relational and commercial database management system (SGBD Oracle), which stores information on collecting and metadata, in Perl language, HTML protocol, using CGI technology. The system has the capacity to store information about 168 different groups, from viruses to plants and superior animals. One significant plus of the project is that researchers can feed the database with information via the Internet, which updates the information faster.