A Toolbox for Initiating and Managing Long-Term Data Collections

Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
Camellia, Sheraton Hotel
Elise S. Gornish, University of California, Davis
Will Ryan, Florida State University
Will Ryan, Florida State University
The value of long-term data for all fields of ecology has been stated repeatedly. However, researchers typically consider the monetary and logistical restrictions associated with standardized, long-term data collection as a major obstacle. As a result, most ecological theory is developed from small-scale, short-term studies that may fail to capture the influence of important sources of variation and patterns that occur at longer time scales. To address this limitation in our understanding of ecological phenomena, regular, long-term data collections in a wide variety of habitats must become commonplace at the level of research institutions. Unfortunately, adequate guidance on how to implement long-term data collection that can be accommodated in a typical research schedule is largely absent from early career training. Providing instruction for the feasible collection and maintenance of this type of data could encourage a more widespread adoption of long-term ecological surveys into academic research programs. A small, but growing number of ecologists have demonstrated that the collection of valuable long-term data is possible with relatively small investment by leveraging inherent resources at research institutions. For example, with minimal financial investment, industrious undergraduate and graduate students who need to develop technical skills or fulfill research requirements can be recruited for data collection on long term projects through an organized course or team building exercise. Alternatively, the enthusiasm and largely untapped potential of non-scientists can be leveraged for the collection and/or analysis of massive amounts of disparate data (e.g., ‘citizen science’), facilitating the development of comprehensive, longitudinal studies. This symposium will explore feasible approaches for initiating and managing long-term data collections for researchers at any stage in their career. Contributors to this symposium will identify a set of “best practices” based on their experiences as a practical guide for those wishing to start such projects. A final panel discussion to close the symposium will encourage a more informal dialogue in which hypothesized and tested ideas for refining long-term data collection methods can be shared and explored furthur. The benefits of widespread adoption of these methods include hands-on experience for students; encouraging public interest in science; increased publication potential for researchers; and increased large scale data availability for everyone, leading to greater understanding of ecological phenomena.
9:00 AM
 The Great Sunflower project:Managing data when leveraging public participation in science to evaluate ecosystem services
Gretchen LeBuhn, San Francisco State University; Seth Hiatt, San Francisco State University; David Cohen, Great Sunflower Project
9:30 AM
9:40 AM
 Development, maintenance, and processing of a large and ever-expanding digital image archive to support phenological research
Andrew D. Richardson, Harvard University; Donald Aubrecht, Harvard University; Koen Hufkens, Harvard University; Stephen Klosterman, Harvard University; Margaret Kosmala, Harvard University; Thomas Milliman, University of New Hampshire; Sandra Henderson, NEON, Inc.
10:10 AM
 Long-term research studies and undergraduate students: Making the most of four years
Lynn M. Christenson, Vassar College; Elise S. Gornish, University of California, Davis; Will Ryan, Florida State University; Thomas E. Miller, Florida State University; Stacey L. Halpern, Pacific University
See more of: Symposia