Environmental Management

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 690–701 | Cite as

Facilitating Access to Biodiversity Information: A Survey of Users’ Needs and Practices

  • Miriam L. E. Steiner DavisEmail author
  • Carol Tenopir
  • Suzie Allard
  • Michael T. Frame


Biodiversity information is essential for understanding and managing the environment. However, identifying and providing the forms and types of biodiversity information most needed for research and decision-making is a significant challenge. While research needs and data gaps within particular topics or regions have received substantial attention, other information aspects such as data formats, sources, metadata, and information tools have received little. Focusing on the US southeast, a region of global biodiversity importance, this paper assesses the biodiversity information needs of environmental researchers, managers, and decision makers. Survey results of biodiversity information users’ information needs, information-seeking behaviors and preferred information source attributes support previous conclusions that useful biodiversity information must be easily and quickly accessible, available in forms that allow integration and visualization and appropriately matched to users’ needs. Survey results concerning additional information aspects suggest successful participation in both the creation and provision of biodiversity information include an increased focus on information search and other tools for data management, discovery, and description.


Biodiversity Science information Information needs Information access Information providers 



Many people were involved at various stages in this research and manuscript. Thanks to Beth Meko for her assistance on the literature review, Christopher Caldwell for his work on survey design, and Jana Redmond, Harrison Pang, and Ashley Pruitt for their work on the survey frame. Special thanks to Jean Freeney of US Geological Survey (USGS) for her support throughout the project. This project is based upon work previously supported by the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Program before its program termination in 2012.


The research in this study complies with all laws in the US. The study was approved by the University of Tennessee Institutional Review Board.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam L. E. Steiner Davis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carol Tenopir
    • 1
  • Suzie Allard
    • 2
  • Michael T. Frame
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Information and Communication StudiesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.School of Information SciencesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Core Science Systems, Core Science Analytics and SynthesisUnited States Geological SurveyOak RidgeUSA

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