• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

A generic structure for plant trait databases

Methods in Ecology and Evolution (2011)
Kattge J, Ogle K, Bönisch G, Diaz S, Lavorel S, Madin J, Nadrowski K, Noellert S, Sartor K and Wirth C
DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2010,00067
2: 202-213

1. Plant traits are fundamental for understanding and predicting vegetation responses to global
changes, and they provide a promising basis towards a more quantitative and predictive approach
to ecology. As a consequence, information on plant traits is rapidly accumulating, and there is a
growing need for efficient database tools that enable the assembly and synthesis of trait data.
2. Plant traits are highly heterogeneous, exhibit a low degree of standardization and are linked and
interdependent at various levels of biological organization: tissue, organ, plant and population.
Therefore, they often require ancillary data for interpretation, including descriptors of the biotic
and abiotic environment, methods and taxonomic relationships.
3. We introduce a generic database structure that is tailored to accommodate plant trait complexity
and is consistent with current theoretical approaches to characterize the structure of observational
data. The over-arching utility of the proposed database structure is illustrated based on two independent
plant trait database projects.
4. The generic database structure proposed here is meant to serve as a flexible blueprint for future
plant trait databases, improving data discovery, and ensuring compatibility among them.

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