StreamNet Datastore News

Despite the existence of various regional-scale fish data sharing projects in the Pacific Northwest, there are many types of data for which no regional system is specifically designed. Examples of regional data sharing systems include:

-- The Regional Mark Processing Center (, which deals with anadromous salmonids that have had coded wire tags implanted and with hatchery releases, and serves an international audience of researchers and managers concerned with salmon and steelhead harvest.
-- PTAGIS (, which manages PIT tag data in the Columbia River system.
-- The Pacific Northwest Water Quality Exchange (, which is for sharing water quality data.
-- And StreamNet's main database, which contains a variety of types of data (, many dealing with fish abundance and distribution.

But where can you store, and find, data sets that don't fit in any of the regional databases?

The StreamNet Data Store is an excellent place to archive and share fish-related data sets that do not fit in any of the standard regional data systems. For example, recent additions to the Data Store include trout genetics data from Montana, fish population surveys in Montana, and a Washington State University innovative project to store winter precipitation. The Data Store can be found at For projects with a contractual obligation to share data sets, the StreamNet Data Store lets you fulfill this requirement quickly and easily. This is becoming more common for projects funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and other funding entities.

The Data Store was recently improved in three ways.

The first improvement makes it easier to send data sets to the Data Store. The Data Publishing Service (, which is used to describe a data set and send it to the Data Store, previously was a Windows program that had to be installed on a computer. The need to install the program caused problems for employees of agencies which do not allow the installation of outside software by employees. The new version -- which came out March 24 -- is Internet-based, so there is nothing to install. The new version also provides greater flexibility in how files are submitted to the Data Store. It also provides greater control over data set files and data set descriptions, allowing you to update files or descriptions easily.

The second improvement speeds the process of describing the data. Users whose email address is in BPA's CBFISH (Taurus) system ( will find that their contact information has already been entered for them in the required format.

The third improvement is somewhat esoteric, but important and very useful. When describing a data set, information such as the type(s) of data, the geographic scope covered, species described by the data set, and contact person for the data set are recorded. Such information that describes a data set is called "metadata." The old Data Store and Data Publishing Service did not quite meet federal standards for data set descriptions (the "FGDC metadata standard" The new Data Publishing Service guides you through completion of data set descriptions that fully meet FGDC standards, and provides some tools to quicken the process. Understanding and using the FGDC metadata standard for biological data sets can be a daunting task and usually requires a several-day training course to accomplish, as well as specialized software. The StreamNet Data Publishing Service is designed to meet the needs of most biologists: those of us who are not GIS or metadata experts, and who need to describe a biological, physical, or chemical data set rather than a GIS layer, and do so in a reasonable amount of time. The Data Publishing Service guides you through filling out the most important aspects of the data set descriptions, while the complexities are kept hidden. The many non-required and conditionally required items found in the FGDC metadata standard that are not applicable to fisheries data sets are avoided, while some of the complex items are simplified. People who have used the Data Publishing Service usually report that it takes only 15 to 20 minutes to complete a data set description and send the data set to StreamNet's Data Store.

If you have a requirement to share data sets, or if you simply wish to archive one or more data sets and make them available to all so they are not lost, the StreamNet Data Store and associated Data Publishing Service is an excellent resource for you.