An information infrastructure for vegetation science (Hosted by NCEAS)

Principal Investigators:

Robert K. Peet, Dennis H. Grossman, Michael D. Jennings, and Marilyn D. Walker

Vegetation classification is of central importance to biological conservation for plannning and inventory, to resource management for monitoring and planning, and to basic scientific research as a tool for organizing and interpreting ecological information. All of these activities require that ecological units be defined and that their distribution on the landscape be known and understood. Vegetation classification contributes significantly to analysis of ecological problems that vary in scale from persisitence of tiny populations of endangered... more

Through the combined efforts of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Ecological Society of America Vegetation Panel (ESA-VP), and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), the United States is on the verge of having its first fully functional, widely-applied vegetation classification system. The federal government has declared the need for a single standard, and on October 22, 1997, the Secretary of Interior, acting as Chair of the Federal Geographic Data Committee, approved the Vegetation Information and Classification Standard ( which is now the standard vegetation classification for U.S. Federal agencies and their cooperators. Yet, there are still major obstacles ot overcome to make such a system operational and broadly accepted. ESA-VP is working in close collaboration with TNC and FGDC to draft standards for field data acquisition, type, definition, and peer review of proposed additions and changes. A fourth component, an information infrastructure to manage the anticipated 107 plots and 104 plant associations required for a national system, and to distribute this information across the web in a continually revised but perfectly archived format, represents a major intellectual and practical obstacle to the realization of the system. It is this final piece that our proposal addresses.

We propose to convene at NCEAS a working group to design, construct and test prototypes of two core components of the information infrastructure necessary to support the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (US-NVC): a stand-alone vegetation plots database system with internet access tools, and an addition to the TNC Heritage Data Management System that will allow the national classification database to be both continually revised and perfectly archived. Subsets of this working group would meet at intervals over a 2-yr period to develop and test components of the system. A postdoctoral associate employed by NCEAS would work in consultation with project coordinators, TNC and federal government analysts, and NCEAS staff to complete most of the actual design and programming. The prototypes would be demonstrated using a variety of data from the greater Yosemite vegetation mapping project. Subsequently, additional datasets would be used to explore and demonstrate the robustness of the system. Once developed and peer reviewed, the modules of the working prototype would be adopted and maintained, by some combination of TNC, USGS (NBII), FGDC and ESA. collapse

Participants and Meetings

Working Group Participants
ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group7th—8th April 1999Participant List  
Working Group1st—2nd May 1999Participant List  
Working Group12th—15th October 1999Participant List  
Working Group26th—27th July 2000Participant List  
Working Group11th—13th September 2000Participant List  
Working Group13th—15th September 2000Participant List  
Working Group29th—31st January 2001Participant List  
Working Group26th—27th April 2001Participant List  
Working Group17th—19th September 2001Participant List  
Working Group24th—26th October 2001Participant List  
Working Group4th—6th February 2002Participant List  
Working Group1st—7th June 2002Participant List  
Working Group11th—14th September 2002Participant List  
Working Group22nd—24th January 2003Participant List  
Working Group29th September—1st October 2003Participant List  

Participant Contact Information

Dennis H. GrossmanThe Nature Conservancy
Michael D. Jenningsjennings@uidaho.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Robert K. Peetpeet@unc.eduUniversity of North Carolina
Marilyn D. WalkerUniversity of Alaska
Tom Philippiphilippi@fiu.eduSavannah River Ecology Laboratory
Bruce BinghamBruce.Bingham/r6pnw_mthood@fs.fed.usMount Hood National Forest
Antoni W.H. DammanKansas State University
Frank W. Davisfrank.davis@nceas.ucsb.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
James F. Drakejdrake@tnc.orgThe Nature Conservancy
Aaron Ellisonaellison@fas.harvard.eduMount Holyoke College
Amy Farstadafarstad@email.unc.eduUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
David C. Glenn-Lewindglennle@twsuvm.uc.twsu.eduWichita State University
Kathy Goodinkathy_goodin@natureserve.orgThe Nature Conservancy
John Haglundjhaglund/wo_sandy@fs.fed.usMount Hood National Forest
Stephan Hennekensstephan.hennekens@wur.nlALTERRA, Green World Research
Leslie Honeylhoney@tnc.orgThe Nature Conservancy
Matthew B. Jonesjones@nceas.ucsb.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Leonard Krishtalkakrishtalka@ku.eduUniversity of Kansas
J. Scott Petersonspeterson@npdc.usda.govNational Resources Conservation Service
John H. Porterjhp7e@virginia.eduUniversity of Virginia
Joop H.J. Schaminej.h.j.schaminee@ibn.dlo.nlIBN-DLO, Institute for Forestry and Nature Research
Mark P. Schildhauerschild@nceas.ucsb.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Peter Stevenspeter.stevens@mobot.orgMissouri Botanical Garden
Steve Taswellstaswell@tnc.orgThe Nature Conservancy
Gary S. Waggonergary_waggoner@nbs.govUS Geological Survey (USGS)
Don Faber-Langendoendon_faber-langendoen@natureserve.orgThe Nature Conservancy
Mark Schaefermark_schaefer@natureserve.orgNatureServe/Association for Biodiversity Information
Rod Davidsonrdavidson@fs.fed.usUSDA Forest Service
Ben Goodkindbgoodkind@tnc.orgNatureServe/Association for Biodiversity Information
John Harrisharris@nceas.ucsb.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Paula Ross Huddlestonpaula.huddleston@usda.govUS Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Mike Palmercarex@okstate.eduOklahoma State University
Karen D.
David W. Robertsdroberts@montana.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Michael T. Barbourmichael.barbour@tetratech.comUniversity of California, Davis
David L.
Michael T.
Brad Boylebboyle@email.arizona.eduUniversity of Arizona
Jerry Research
Susan K. Research
Gabriel FarrellUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
P. Mark Andersonanderson@nceas.ucsb.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Joel Gramlinggramling@email.unc.eduUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Lee Anne Jacobslajacobs4@gmail.comUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Products: Publications, Reports, Datasets, Presentations, Visualizations

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Franz, Nico M.; Peet, Robert K.; Weakley, Alan. 2007. On the use of taxonomic concepts in support of biodiversity research and taxonomy. Edited by Wheeler, Q. D. New Taxonomy. Vol: 74. Taylor & Francis. Boca Raton, FL. Pages 63-84.
Presentations Harris, John; Walker, Marilyn D.; Peet, Robert K.; Grossman, Dennis H.; Jennings, Michael D. 2001. An information infrastructure for vegetation science: A model and prototype database for storing and integrating vegetation data. Ecological Society Meeting, August 2001. Madison, WI.
Presentations Jennings, Michael D. 2001. Remote sensing and GIS accuracy assessment. Symposium of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, December 2001. Las Vegas, NV.
Data Set Jennings, Michael D. 2006. Multisource field plot data for studies of vegetation alliances: Northwestern USA. (Online version)
Journal Article Jennings, Michael D.; Faber-Langendoen, Don; Loucks, Orie L.; Peet, Robert K.; Roberts, David W. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs. Vol: 79(2). Pages 173-199.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2000. A data model for taxonomic databases in biology: A candidate for adoption as a Federal Standards by the Federal Geographic Data Committee, 2 November 2000. Smithsonian Institution. Washington, D.C..
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2000. An information infrastructure for vegetation science. Vegetation Classification Panel Workshop, 5 August 2000. Annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2000. A system for management of vegetation classification data and peer review of proposed vegetation types. Symposium on Vegetation Classification, 21 February 2000. Society for Range Management. Kona, Hawaii.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2000. The Carolina Vegetation Survey and databases for vegetation science. The South Carolina Native Plant Society, 7 April 2000. Columbia, SC.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2000. The VegBank taxonomic data model. FGDC Biological Data Working Group, November 2000. Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2001. Scalable information networks for the environment, November 2001. San Diego, CA.
Presentations Peet, Robert K.; Harris, John. 2001. The challenge of biodiversity: Plot, organism, and taxonomic databases. Symposium on Scalable Information Networks for the Environment, November 2001. San Diego, CA.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2001. The role of VegBank in vegetation classification. Vegetation Classification Symposium, February 2001. Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Science. Kona, Hawaii.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2001. The VegBank data model. Scalable Information Systems: From Laboratories to NEON Workshop, August 2001. Madison, Wisconsin.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2001. The VegBank taxonomic data model as a template for a national biological nomenclature data standard. FGDC Biological Data Working Group Meeting, July 2001. Washington, DC.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2001. Topic: Vegetation Classification. FGDC Biological Data Working Group Meeting, July 2001. Washington, D.C..
Presentations Peet, Robert K.; Harris, John; Jennings, Michael D.; Walker, Marilyn D. 2002. Data models for community information. Ecological Society of America Workshop on Vegetation, Classification, August 2002. Tucson, AZ.
Presentations Peet, Robert K.; Taswell, Steve; Harris, John. 2002. The VegBank taxonomic datamodel. NBII All-Node Meeting, February 2002. Davis, CA.
Presentations Peet, Robert K.; Harris, John; Jennings, Michael D.; Grossman, Dennis H.; Walker, Marilyn D. 2002. VegBank: A vegetation field plot archive. NBII All-Node Meeting, February 2002. Davis, CA.
Presentations Peet, Robert K.; Harris, John. 2002. VegBank: A vegetation field plot archive. Association of Southeastern Biologists Meeting, April 2002. Boone, NC.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2003. Ecoinformatics and the future of community Ecology. Symposium on Databases and Information Systems for Vegetation Science, Keynote Lecture, June 2003. Annual Meeting of the International Association for Vegetation Sciences. Naples, Italy.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2003. Integration of the VegBank archive into the National Vegetation Classification FGDC-ESA. USGS Vegetation Summit, January 2003. Reston, VA.
Presentations Peet, Robert K. 2003. The VegBank taxonomic datamodel. TDWG Meeting, October 2003. Lisbon, Portugal.
Journal Article Peet, Robert K.; Lee, Michael T.; Jennings, Michael D.; Faber-Langendoen, Don. 2012. VegBank - a permanent, open-access archive for vegetation-plot data. Biodiversity and Ecology. Vol: 4. Pages 233-241. (Online version)
Report or White Paper Peet, Robert K. An information infrastructure for vegetation science: Project overview and progress report.. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis.
Report or White Paper Peet, Robert K. Biological Nomenclature/Taxonomy Meeting Summary. FGDC meeting at the Smithsonian.
Journal Article Wiser, Susan K.; Spencer, Nick; De Caceres, Miquel; Kleikamp, Martin; Boyle, Brad; Peet, Robert K. 2011. Veg-X - An exchange standard for plot-based vegetation data. Journal of Vegetation Science. Vol: 22(4). Pages 598-609. (Online version)
"An information infrastructure for vegetation science (Hosted by NCEAS)" is project ID: 2180