Environmental Data

Environmental Data

Smithsonian researchers collect data that spans both space and time. SERC has long-term datasets that track decades of environmental change, as well as plant and animal databases that cover the U.S. and beyond. Citizen science is enabling us to collect even greater quantities of data than could be tracked by a single scientist or lab. SERC data is available to the public in accordance with the Smithsonian Terms of Use, and any other noted data management plans. Browse the projects and databases below for more information. 

Global Change Research Wetland chamber

Global Change Research Wetland

Created in 1987, the Global Change Research Wetland sits on a 70-hectare brackish marsh where scientists are exploring the impacts of future climate change. By running experiments that simulate the world of 2100, scientists are finding answers to questions about the stability of coastal marshes, and whether they can survive sea-level rise. The wetland is also home to the longest-running field experiment on CO2 and plant communities in the world.

Tunicate, Ascidia sydneiensis
(Photo: Rosana M. Rocha, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil)


Compiled by SERC's Marine Invasions Lab, NEMESIS (short for "National Exotic Marine and Estuarine Species Information System") contains data on nearly 500 non-native species across the U.S. Species profiles include region of origin, how scientists think they arrived,  their impacts and distribution maps. NEMESIS contains databases for Chesapeake Bay, California and the United States.

Chatterbox orchid, Epipactis gigantea
(Photo: David McAdoo)

Go Orchids

Developed by the SERC-based North American Orchid Conservation Center, Go Orchids is online guide to the 200-plus native orchids in the U.S. and Canada, more than half of which are endangered or threatened somewhere they once flourished. The database includes a visual key to allow users to identify orchids by sight, as well as information on each orchid's range, flowering time, legal status and much more.

Sellman House

Archaeology StoryMap

SERC's volunteer Archaeology Lab is uncovering the history of the Sellman Plantation, a 500-acre farm property located on the SERC campus. Seven generations of Sellmans lived on the land for almost two centuries, farming tobacco, wheat and corn. This interactive storymap shows a history of the land and how it has evolved. It includes visual maps of agriculture, deforestation, erosion and shoreline loss, and the locations of current and historic sites on the SERC property.

Three bluebird eggs in nest

Bluebird Monitoring

Eastern bluebirds hit record lows in the late 1960s, largely due to loss of habitat as forests were cut down. Today, many Americans have developed a renewed interest in helping them recover by building nestboxes for bluebirds and other birds that nest in tree cavities. Using nestboxes on the SERC campus, citizen scientists have collected data on bluebird populations since 2008. By comparing these data with temperature data from SERC's meteorological tower, they're attempting to discover if harsh, cold winters could be causing a drop in the number of bluebirds fledged each year.

students in stream

Urban Ecology

In the Urban Ecology Engagement Initiative, high school and middle school students and their teachers take part in monitoring the Anacostia watershed where they live. The Anacostia watershed has suffered from industrial pollution and sewage runoff for much of its recent history. By engaging students as citizen scientists, the Smithsonian is working to help restore the watershed and train the next generation to be stewards of the environment. Data they have collected in 2015 includes salinity, stream water temperature and air temperature.