Ecological Database in Amazonia

msc9223 at msc9223 at
Thu Jun 4 15:05:40 EST 1992


I am working on a project to set up a GIS to be based at a field center
currently being completed with funds from the UK Overseas Development
Administration at the new Caxuana Reserve at the mouth of the Amazon 
(approx. 400km SW of Belem). The project is in conjunction with the
Royal Geographical Society which is planning to send a scientific
expedition out to the reserve in the next 2 years, and the Museu Goeldi
based in Belem. The work will make up my thesis here at Edinburgh 

The eventual aim is to provide up-to-date and accurate spatial information
for researchers at the reserve (c.30000 ha) from available sources and an
ecological database sufficiently flexible to cope with all the storage,
analysis and presentation of data required by field scientists (ecologists,
botanists, pedologists, zoologists, foresters etc...).

Currently I am at the 'system requirements' stage and immersing myself in
ecological textbooks (I never realised the difficulty in ageing tropical 
trees when they don't have annular rings!), but I have found few references
to standardising ecological data collection let alone designing ecological/
environmental databases (which is my next stage).

Provided relatively fundamental environmental information could be
collected in a standardised manner in the field, a GIS would seem to offer
great advantages in sythesizing disparate scientific data sets, analyzing
them in an inter-related way, and monitoring spatial changes through time.
The project is in its early stages at the moment but I would really
appreciate any help with the following or anything else that you might
consider relevant:

-Does anyone know of any similar research going on into the use of computer
 modelling of spatial and temporal factors in Tropical rainforests?
-Are there standard conventions for recording ecological/environmental
 field survey data on specific data-entry forms of even digital input devices?
-Has anyone attempted to design an ecological database in such a complex
-Does anyone know of any appropriate literature, particularly regarding field
 data collection and standardisation techniques for recording this 
 information? I have a book written in 1980 by the Dept. of Forestry and
 Ecology in British Columbia which is very useful but perhaps more
 modern methods have developed?

Given my lack of experience in this field I would be very grateful for any
comments, criticisms or suggestions.
John Maslen

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