News, Thematic Standardization

Harmonizing ecological community survey data for reuse: an update

The idea of harmonizing data is not new, and for some research domains has been successful. Our body of long-term observations of organisms in ecological communities is growing, and many datasets have been used already in synthesis and meta analyses – but only after considerable effort to bring them into alignment.  A goal of EDI has been to develop recommendations for data harmonization, and to convert “raw data” in specific domains into a common data model to prepare them for analysis and accelerate synthesis or meta analyses.

Temporal, spatial and taxonomic coverage of datasets available in the ecocomDP model. Data source: Black, EDI; Gray, NEON. A) Temporal coverage (years), B) Temporal evenness (years), C) Spatial extent, D) group. An asterisk indicates that two groups (Tick, Mosquito) are specifically targeted by NEON. When these taxa occur in EDI datasets, they are plotted here with Arthropods

EDI recently finalized its data model for ecological community surveys, called “ecocomDP”, which is described in a recent open-access paper. EDI harmonization uses the workflow approach supported by EDI’s PASTA platform to reformat data without altering the original. An R package is available from CRAN  to assist with reformatting original tables and work with ecocomDP data. Development of both the model and the R package was collaborative, involving NEON and LTER scientists and data managers. Another result of that collaboration is that the NEON Network now exposes their community surveys in the ecocomDP model, via the R package, The figure shows temporal, spatial and taxonomic coverage of datasets available in the ecocomDP model from EDI and NEON.

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Thematic Standardization

EDI workshop on data package design for community survey data, June 6-8, 2017

EDI held its first workshop to address standardized intermediate formats, metadata content and data manipulation scripts for thematic data, in this case for long-term surveys of community structure, which are currently in demand by synthesis projects.

The workshop was held at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. We assembled scientists and data managers to focus on synthetic data assembly and formatting needs, and summarize the formats, code, packaging patterns, metadata content, and vocabularies to build formal recommendations for data providers. More information on the accomplishments of the workshop are available here. Details on EDI’s efforts on data package design in general can be found on our “Data Package Design” page under menu item “Resources”  here.