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Data Management Adaptation: Correlating Forest Community Dynamics to Climate

By Sarah McCarthy-Neumann

Alma College

Students use vegetation structure data from the National Ecological Observatory Network to understand necessary steps of data management from data collection to data analysis by correlating vegetation biomass across nine forest sites to climate...

Listed in Datasets | resource by group DIG into Data FMN (2018)

Version 1.0 - published on 19 Dec 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4V43M - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution 4.0 International according to these terms

Adapted from: Data Management using National Ecological Observatory Network's (NEON) Small Mammal Data with Accompanying Lesson on Mark Recapture Analysis v 2.1

NEONTreeVegetation.jpg

Description

This lesson is an adaptation based on two other teaching modules:

Hernández-Pacheco, R. (2018). More In Depth Spreadsheet Management Adaptation of Data Management using NEON Small Mammal DataNEON Faculty Mentoring Network, QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/Q44X4D

Jim McNeil and Megan A. Jones. April 2018, posting date. Data Management using National Ecological Observatory Network’s (NEON) Small Mammal Data with Accompanying Lesson on Mark Recapture Analysis. Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology, Vol. 13: Practice #9 [online]. http://tiee.esa.org/vol/v13/issues/data_sets/mcneil/abstract.html

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Building research questions and carrying out appropriate analysis to answer them is often the ultimate semester activity within introductory ecology courses. These research experiences present multiple challenges concerning 1) how to generate data and 2) how to manage the data for analysis. This adaptation uses NEON vegetation structure data in place of NEON small mammal data in the teaching module 'More in Depth Spreadsheet Management Adaptation of Data Management Using NEON Small Mammal Data' (Raisa Hernández-Pacheco 2018) to address the second challenge.

This activity is designed to be carried out in a 1.25 hr lecture style course, however, students will need access to computers during this activity. Although the activity can be easily extended, its adaptation to the original was intended for instructors with high need to teach data management skills in a short period of time.

Specific module adaptations

NEON terrestrial forest vegetation data replaced NEON small mammal data in order to broaden the use of the teaching module in plant oriented courses. Specifically, this adaptation consists of four exercises that introduce students to 1) format spreadsheet data tables, 2) carry out spreadsheet quality control, 3) count/sort/filter data of interest in order to conduct a pilot analysis on NEON forest aboveground biomass, and 4) correlate vegetation biomass across nine forest sites to a climate metric (e.g., latitude, mean annual temperature, or mean annual precipitation).

In this adapted activity, students will learn how to:

  • format spreadsheets for effective data use.
  • carry out spreadsheet quality assurance and control.
  • conduct a pilot analysis by managing a large, open access dataset to answer a research question.
  • create a scatter plot figure correlating tree aboveground biomass to a climate metric across nine sites.

The Data Sets

The National Ecological Observatory Network is a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and operated under cooperative agreement by Battelle Memorial Institute. This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the NEON Program.

The following datasets are posted for educational purposes only. Data for research purposes should be obtained directly from the National Ecological Observatory Network (www.neonscience.org).

  • NEON_TreeVegetation_variables.xlsx – Metadata file for NEON terrestrial vegetation data describing the variable names.
  • NEON.Adaptation_FacultyNotes_DataManagementWithNEONTreeData.docx – This document provides instructor information on the workshop activity.
  • NEON.Adaptation_DataManagementWithNEONTreeData_Slides.pptx –  This presentation accompanies the workshop activity and provides visuals to support the steps of the activity.
  • NEON_tree_data_student.xlsx –This workbook contains NEON terrestrial vegetation data consisting of both species identity and size (e.g., diameter at breast height) for all individuals at all NEON terrestrial sites.
  • NEON_plot_area.xlsx - This workbook contains the area sampled at each of the sites which is needed to standardize the aboveground biomass data to cm per hectare.
  • NEON_site_climate.xlsx - This workbook contains latitude, mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation at each site.
  • NEON_tree_data_instructor.xlsx –This workbook contains NEON terrestrial vegetation data consisting of both species identity and size (e.g., diameter at breast height) already filtered by individuals and sites (according to the activity instructions) with pivot table result summaries and scatter plot figures.

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Notes

Version 1.0: This version of the teaching module was prepared as part of the 2018 DIG into Data FMN. 

DIG into Data FMN (2018)

DIG into Data FMN (2018) group image