A data commons approach can help span scales and stakeholders to support ecosystem conservation and land use

TitleA data commons approach can help span scales and stakeholders to support ecosystem conservation and land use
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMcCord S, Webb N, Bonefont K, Burke R, Edwards B, Bestelmeyer BT, Herrick JE
Conference NameEcological Society of America
Date Published02/2020
Conference LocationSalt Lake City, Utah
ARIS Log Number374804

Background: Drivers of ecosystem changes include climate change, changing land uses, land management, and invasive species. Research efforts are underway to understand the impacts these drives on ecosystem services and agricultural production systems. At the same time, land managers seek to understand these interactions and implement conservation practices to ensure that management objectives are being met. To address these research and management needs, scientists and land managers have developed a range of disconnected data collection and monitoring initiatives. A strength of these initiatives has been the adoption of a suite of standardized vegetation and soil monitoring methods. These methods measure vegetation cover and structure, as well as soil horizon characteristics across dryland ecosystems from the Chihuahan Desert to the Arctic Tundra to the Mongolian Steppe. Yet, using this multi-scale ecosystem information can be challenging as it is difficult to locate and access these standardized data, ensure that they are trustworthy, and connect them to models and analytical tools. Here we present the Landscape Data Commons, which provides common rangeland datasets, standardized analysis tools and linkages to models that can integrate and add value to the data. The Landscape Data Commons provides a capability to deliver monitoring-derived information to benefit research, policy and land management across the United States and internationally.
Methods:Cumulatively, across research institutions, state and federal land management agencies, and non-profit organizations over 60,000 rangeland monitoring locations have been sampled since 1995 in the western US. In aggregate, these data provide a unique and underutilized opportunity to understand rangeland change and ecosystem patterns across physiographic gradients as well as land use and land ownership. In this talk, we will discuss the novel cyberinfrastructure developments which have facilitated the aggregation of these monitoring data. We will also present how the Landscape Data Commons is being leveraged to understand ecosystem change at local and regional scales in combination with wind erosion models, decision frameworks, citizen science and sensor big datasets. We provide community and landscape scale examples of how the Landscape Data Commons is helping to elucidate previously unquantified patterns in soil erosion, invasive species spread to inform land management decisions and further research into ecological dynamics. We will conclude by discussing how the principles of the Landscape Data Commons can be applied to address grand challenges in ecosystem science and management. Paper number #82161.