Ecoinformatics and global change – an overdue liaison

Authors

  • Jürgen Dengler,

    1. Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants, Biocentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststr. 18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jörg Ewald,

    1. Botany & Vegetation Science, Faculty of Forestry, University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 3, 85354 Freising, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ingolf Kühn,

    1. Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Dept. Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Robert K. Peet

    1. Department of Biology CB#3280, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, United States
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Dengler, J. (corresponding author, dengler@botanik.uni-hamburg.de): Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants, Biocentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, University of Hamburg, Ohnhorststr. 18, 22609 Hamburg, Germany
    Ewald, J. (joerg.ewald@hswt.de): Botany & Vegetation Science, Faculty of Forestry, University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, Hans-Carl-von-Carlowitz-Platz 3, 85354 Freising, Germany
    Kühn, I. (ingolf.kuehn@ufz.de): Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, Dept. Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany
    Peet, R.K. (peet@unc.edu): Department of Biology CB#3280, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280, United States.

Abstract

The field of ecoinformatics provides concepts, methods and standards to guide management and analysis of ecological data with particular emphasis on exploration of co-occurrences of organisms and their linkage to environmental conditions and taxon attributes. In this editorial, introducing the Special Feature ‘Ecoinformatics and global change’, we reflect on the development of ecoinformatics and explore its importance for future global change research with special focus on vegetation-plot data. We show how papers in this Special Feature illustrate important directions and approaches in this emerging field. We suggest that ecoinformatics has the potential to make profound contributions to pure and applied sciences, and that the analyses, databases, meta-databases, data exchange formats and analytical tools presented in this Special Feature advance this approach to vegetation science and illustrate and address important open questions. We conclude by describing important future directions for the development of the field including incentives for data sharing, creation of tools for more robust statistical analysis, utilities for integration of data that conform to divergent taxonomic standards, and databases that provide detailed plot-specific data so as to allow users to find and access data appropriate to their research needs.

Ancillary