ECOLOGY PEER TO PEER. SHARING DATA (AND METADATA) AMONG ECOLOGISTS
Oscar G. Cardenas Hernandez, Atzimba g. López Maldonado
Last modified: 2008-09-13
Sharing information has become a trend now a days. A growing community around the planet shares music and video files. So, why not share ecological data? This paper addresses the current work of the Long Term Ecological Research Mexican Network, a community of ecologists in Mexico who are currently developing a series of activities in order to increase collaboration through data and metadata sharing. The Mexican LTER network includes ten groups of researchers distributed all over the country. The objective of the network is to study ecological processes on long temporal and spatial scales in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, included in seven thematic areas. Each group specializes in a particular ecosystem and develops different areas according to the expertise of their members. The idea of the network is to build knowledge on how ecosystems work on the long term, and share this information among the members in order to replicate experiments and develop common methodologies to study similar ecosystems. To promote multi- and interdisciplinary scientific collaboration among the members of the network, it is necessary to know what everybody else is doing. To do so, the Mexican LTER network has put on line the metadata of the investigations that have taken place among all the groups for the last 3 years so far. This information includes 14 different fields such us Title, Monitored Variables, Site Description, Context, and so on. A new project on eco-hydrology, which involves all the groups in the network, is currently under development. This new project will allow collecting meteorological data in most of the Mexican ecosystems using meteorological stations, data that must be shared among all the members since this is one of the main objectives of the project. To fulfill this purpose, a new platform of collaboration is under construction and we expect to start collecting and sharing data as soon as middle year. With this new experience we expect to demonstrate that sharing data and metadata, in this case ecological data, is possible among large groups of researchers.