Navigate the Map

NatureServe Surveyor is built on an Esri ArcMap platform and uses many of the conventional tools associated with that. If you’ve used an interactive map recently, you’re probably already familiar with how they work. But here are some tips to help orient you to the Surveyor version.

What’s Where on the Map

On the left side of the toolbar at the top of the map window, you’ll see the subscription name and, if you have access to the subscription, the number of surveys remaining for that subscription. This number will update when you run a survey, and automatically about every five seconds while you’re on the map—that way, if another User is running surveys at the same time, you’ll know how many are really available.

We’ve put the basic tools and navigation in that top toolbar, too. “Trays” on the right side of the map provide controls for turning map layers on and off, selecting which species to include in your survey, and selecting your survey area. The trays can be closed and opened by clicking on their tabs.

Your typical zoom slider lives on the left side of the map window. In the bottom left corner, you’ll find map scales (in kilometers and miles) and latitude/longitude coordinates; these refresh automatically as you zoom and pan through the map.

Basic Tools and Navigation


By default, Surveyor uses the “National Geographic” base map, but offers eleven others from which to choose—simply click on the one you want from the tool’s window.

Overview Map

After you’ve zoomed and panned around the map awhile, it can be easy to lose your bearings! The Overview Map window shows your current map extent as a gray box within an area two levels of detail—i.e., two notches on the zoom slider—farther out than the current extent.


You can see each map layer’s legend in the tray, but sometimes—especially if you have multiple layers turned on—it’s helpful to have a full legend open. Click the tool, then move and resize the window however it’s most convenient for you.


Use this tool to see the attributes of a particular map layer in a particular spot. Select a layer from the tool window, then click on the map; another window displays any attributes provided in that layer for that location.


Use this tool to draw a line or polygon on the map and find out the distance or area of what you've drawn.

  • Select Line or Polygon

  • Choose Freehand or unselect it to draw straight lines from point to point

  • Select a unit of measurement from the drop-down list

  • Click on the map: if drawing freehand, drag the pointer until you've completed the shape you want, then lift it to stop; if drawing points, click on the map where you want the points and double-click on the last point to stop

  • The measurement calculates automatically when you stop drawing; just start drawing again to measure again.

Zoom Tools

For more precise zooming than you can do with just the zoom slider, use these tools (from left to right):

  • Zoom In – Select this tool, then drag an area on the map—the view zooms to that area. The tool is highlighted when on; click it again to turn it off.
  • Zoom Out – Select this tool, then drag an area on the map—the map zooms out with your selected area centered in the new view; the smaller your box, the more it zooms. The tool is highlighted when on; click it again to turn it off.
  • Zoom to Initial Extent – Simply click on this tool to zoom to the map’s default extent
  • Zoom to Previous Extents – Simply click on this tool to zoom to an earlier extent you viewed in this session; keep clicking to move through your history (similar to your browser’s “Back” button)
  • Zoom to Next Extents – If you’ve used the Previous Extents tool, you can use this tool to go the other direction in your history; simply click to step through the extents you’ve viewed in this visit

Using Zoom In/Out:

Search the Map

Enter an address or the name of a place (e.g., “Sanibel, FL” or “Au Sable State Forest”) in the text box and hit “Enter” on your keyboard—the view zooms to that place






The Layers tray lets you view different map layers on the map, such as U.S. counties and NRCS HUC 8-digit watersheds.

  • Simply check and uncheck the box next to a layer to turn it on and off
  • Click the plus sign to the left of a layer name to see its legend
  • Click the arrow to the right of a layer name (appears when you hover there) to adjust the layer’s transparency on the map, move it up or down among layers, remove it if it’s one you added, or view its map service details (opens in a new browser tab)

You can also add your own layer. Click “Add Layer” to expand that option, then fill in the URL of the map service you want to add, give the layer a title to use in the Layers tray, and click the “Add Layer” button. Once your layer is loaded, it behaves just like the built-in layers. Any added layers are lost, though, when you close the browser or log off; you have to reload them on your next visit to use them again.