Overcoming obstacles to sharing data on tree allometric equations

Advances in ecology face the complexity of ecosystems with dynamics longer than a single scientist’s career. In forestry and REDD+ practice, in particular, our ability to understand forest ecosystem dynamics and to manage them for mitigation and adaptation strongly relies on the combination of long-term research efforts and on data sharing. However, data collected by many measurement campaigns are regularly lost because of a lack of capacity to archive and maintain such information. Much progress would be achieved by encouraging researchers to provide access to primary data or publish “data-papers” (Chavan and Penev 2011; Cifuentes Jara et al. 2013; Fady et al. 2014).
Archiving, sharing, and harmonizing data among researchers allows replication of analyses among researchers and thus ensures consistency of measurements over time and, ultimately, measurement accuracy (IPCC 2006). For allometric equations in particular, data sharing avoids the duplication of expensive and time-consuming field data collection. More importantly, it also increases the size of datasets, which directly enhances the quality of the resulting allometric equations in terms of diameter at breast height (DBH) range, goodness of fit indicators, and geographic range where the equations are valid (Chave et al. 2014). Furthermore, the calculation of uncertainty cannot be properly carried out if the original data are not available (Chave et al. 2004; Molto et al. 2013). As robust allometric equations are critical for calculating baseline biomass and carbon stocks for REDD+ and other climate change mitigation initiatives, the need for sharing the best available data becomes more relevant. Here, we identify constraints and propose solutions to facilitate data sharing of allometric equations in forestry research. We analyze which factors limit data sharing among researchers and propose solutions to overcome those limitations.
These recommendations are the result of expert discussions held during the “Regional Technical Workshop on Tree Volume and Biomass Allometric Equations in South and Central America” in Costa Rica, on May 21–24, 2014. The workshop brought together 30 scientists from throughout Latin America, the USA, and Europe to discuss the state of the art on allometric equations, identify knowledge gaps, and offer potential ways forward.

Publication

Cifuentes Jara M, Henry M, Réjou Méchain M, Lopez O, Wayson C, Michel Fuentes J, Castellanos E, Zapata-Cuartas M, Piotto D, Alice Guier F, Castañeda Lombis H, Cuenca Lara R, Cueva Rojas K, del Águila Pasquel J, Duque Montoya Á, Fernández Vega J, Jiménez Galo A, Marklund L, Milla F, Návar Chaidez J, Ortiz Malavassi E, Pérez J, Ramírez Zea C, Rangel García L, Rubilar Pons R, Saint-André L, Sanquetta C, Scott C, Westfall J 2015. Overcoming obstacles to sharing data on tree allometric equations. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-6. 10.1007/s13595-015-0467-8.

Link to full paper.

 

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