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ForestPlots.net: a web application and research tool to manage and analyse tropical forest plot data

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Abstract

Tropical forests are biologically diverse ecosystems that play important roles in the carbon cycle and maintenance of global biodiversity. Understanding how tropical forests respond to environmental changes is important, as changes in carbon storage can modulate the rate and magnitude of climate change. Applying an ecoinformatics approach for managing long-term forest inventory plot data, where individual trees are tracked over time, facilitates regional and cross-continental forest research to evaluate changes in taxonomic composition, growth, recruitment and mortality rates, and carbon and biomass stocks. We developed ForestPlots.net as a secure, online inventory data repository and to facilitate data management of long-term tropical forest plots to promote scientific collaborations among independent researchers. The key novel features of the database are: (a) a design that efficiently deals with time-series data; (b) data management tools to assess potential errors; and (c) a query library to generate outputs (e.g. biomass and carbon stock changes over time).

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