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Action 1 - Data collection and management

Action Responsible


Managing data resulting from long term observations is one of the important tasks not only for the sites itself but also on the network level. Especially exchanging and sharing the information within a wider community is a crucial objective in the upcoming years. Due to the fragmented situation of long term ecological research and monitoring in Europe but also on the global scale, data management within this community has to face several challenges. The most important are e.g. distributed data sources, heterogeneous data models, heterogeneous data management solutions and the complex domain of ecosystem monitoring with regard to the resulting data.

Action 1 aims at an evaluation of the existing approaches to data management and provision in order to support the long term monitoring sites with the necessary data infrastructure in the frame of the current project. The main achievements of this action will be:

  • The demonstration of the usability of the LTER network data to facilitate biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring in Europe
  • The support of the analysis actions with the necessary data flows and interfaces from the measurement at the sites to the calculation of the state and trends of ecosystem quality as well as cause effect relationships
  • An evaluation of the chosen approach in data management and integration in relation to its relevance to the development of SEIS on the European level.

The action aims at the development of working solutions within the frame of the project but as well as the development of concepts and best practise guidelines for the enhancement and harmonisation of data management at the level of LTER sites.

Activities and Results

Starting with a questionnaire the state-of-the-art related to the tools used within the LTER sites was investigated. The results show an overview about data management, data access, data sharing practices, as well as expectations from the LTER community in Europe. They have shown a quite low technical and standardisation level in data management so far. Hence the need for the design of common data exchange system architecture is an important step to ensure the expected interoperability level.

In order to provide an infrastructure in the project a two-step approach has been chosen. First a “short term” solution was developed consisting of an online web based tool for metadata entry together with a simple ftp file-based data exchange for the project needs. Second, a “long term” solution aims to foster the creation of standard web services and gml-based OGC services at the site level.

In order to design and implement particular components of the EnvEurope Data Management System the following activities have been performed:

Based on requirements from the EnvEurope project as well as the LTER Europe community a template for the description and documentation of the LTER sites was developed.  This not only includes the bio-geographic characterisation but also a rough description on the infrastructure and research objectives run at the sites.


Domain Specific Metadata Profile (DSMP)

Based on EML (Ecological Metadata Language) and EnvEurope community, metadata profile for the dataset level has been developed. In fact, EML is mainly used by ILTER sites and developed by and for the ecological discipline. In addition a crosswalk between EML and ISO metadata profiles has been developed in order to ensure the interoperability level within the European Spatial Data Infrastructure.

An online metadata entry and management tool, called EnvEurope Ecological Information Management System, has been developed. It is an extension of the Drupal Ecological Information Management System (DEIMS) developed by the US LTER. It supports the EnvEurope partners in the lifecycle of ecological meta information by editing, search and display, including an OGC service based web viewer for spatial data.


A common controlled vocabulary was built, within EnvEurope project, as the base for semantic integration of the data resulting from long term ecological research and monitoring in Europe. It collects important terms relevant for long term ecological monitoring, observations and experiments aiming at the basis for semantic harmonisation of keywords and concepts. The development is based on existing thesauri, extended according to further needs of LTER Europe and is using SKOS/RDF as formal language. Linkages to existing controlled vocabularies and thesauri are the first steps on the way to leave semantic islands.


Data reporting format

Based on the UNECE ICP Integrated Monitoring programme, as general reporting format has been developed for the collection of observational data (e.g. meteorology, air or water quality, abundance of species). The data reported by the partners can be directly uploaded by the partners and then accessed and downloaded using an ftp-repository.


Data policy

A common data policy was developed for the EnvEurope project. Based on this with the experiences of the project a common data policy for LTER Europe will be designed.


Future planning

The next steps to be taken are:

  • Completion of the metadata for the datasets used in the EnvEurope project
  • Completion of the data reporting for the data required for the data
  • Development of a centralised database for the EnvEurope project data
  • Development of a best practise guideline for data quality assurance and data quality control
  • Development of a best practise guideline for web based data provision and integration for LTER sites based on the experiences of EnvEurope
  • Evaluation of the proposed data management architecture in relation to the requirements of SEIS
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