Thursday, May 11, 2006

57 Varieties of Data

The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment is out with their Survey of Non-Native Species Databases (.pdf), and they've got a load of data about, well, other people's data. The survey included more than 250 databases in the U.S., with the majority of them coming from Universities (many by grad student worker bees :-) ). Some findings form the study:

  • Most of the databases are updated no more than annually, with many not updated at all (indicating a one-time project), and the majority by far include data about plants.
  • Though several of the databases come from private sources, the majority of those allow public access to the data.
  • Unfortunately, less than half of all the databases surveyed are currently available online. The Heinz Center plans to make links available to the ones that are, and perhaps this study may encourage more of the participants to share their data (I am working on doing that for my own database right now!).
The study also looked at gaps in the data, and found that certain states (including the Dakotas and a block of Southern states in the central and eastern U.S.) had a lack of invasive species data. The authors also found a general lack of databases for data collected on wide temporal or spatial scales, but they did note that it is important to consider a variety of scales when studying invasive species.

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