Issue No. 03 - May/June (2003 vol. 5)
Roman Dial , Alaska Pacific University
Barbara Bond , Oregon State University
Judith Bayard Cushing , The Evergreen State College
Nalini Nadkarni , The Evergreen State College
<p>Solving critical biosphere-level problems such as global warming, decreasing biodiversity, and the depletion of natural resources will require increased data sharing and data mining, which in turn will require better data infrastructure and informatics tools than are now available off the shelf. Investments are now being made in some of the needed data infrastructure for ecology data warehouses, though all problems are far from solved. The most effective way for individual researchers to benefit from documenting their data for those warehouses would be to integrate database technology early in the research process. Unfortunately, barriers to database use by ecologists are numerous. Furthermore, integrating such technology will likely require and engender changes in the ways ecologists work. Developing appropriate technology will require in-depth understanding of the ecological research process and resource management issues. It will also require active collaboration among computer scientists, data managers and ecologists on the required research. </p><p>The research project described here brings together computer scientists and ecologists to develop database tools that provide better data sharing and easier access to analysis tools for one subdiscipline of ecology, forest canopy research. We briefly describe our long-term research goals - namely very early integration of database technology via end-user database design, and go on to illustrate why we have tempered the that with gaining experience with constrained, relatively modest, low risk database projects at later stages of the research process. We focus on two efforts, database applications for field data acquisition and within-laboratory data management. Our staged approach helps our developers understand how to provide better technology for the long run. Although adopting new technology and infrastructure will inevitably change the way ecology research is done, we hope to make those changes ones that ecologists want.</p>
R. Dial, B. Bond, J. B. Cushing and N. Nadkarni, "How Trees and Forests Inform Biodiversity and Ecosystem Informatics," in Computing in Science & Engineering, vol. 5, no. , pp. 32-43, 2003.