2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 253-12
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM


GORING, Simon1, WILLIAMS, John W.2, GRIMM, Eric3, GRAHAM, Russell W.4, PACIOREK, Chris J.5, DAWSON, Andria5, MCLACHLAN, Jason6, BILLS, Brian7 and ANDERSON, Michael8, (1)Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, 550 N Park St, Madison, WI 53706, (2)Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 550 N Park St, Madison, WI 53706, (3)Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL 62703, (4)Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 332 Steidle Building, University Park, PA 16802, (5)Department of Statistics, University of California - Berkeley, 367 Evans Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, (6)Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 100 Galvin Life Sciences, Notre Dame, IN 46556, (7)Center for Environmental Informatics, The Pennsylvania State University, Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, 2217 Earth-Engineering Sciences Building, University Park, PA 16802-6813, (8)Spatial Information Technologies, 190 Tow Hill Road, Port Matilda, PA 16870

Pliocene-Quaternary fossil records from mammals, plants, ostracodes and insects, among others, have played a key role in our understanding of the interrelationship between climate and ecological communities on decadal, centennial and millennial time scales. The Neotoma Paleoecological Database provides a centralized repository for over 11,000 datasets, comprising a variety of data types, ages and locations across North America and around the world. Neotoma has already contributed to our understanding of late-Quaternary and Holocene change (among others: Blois et al., 2013; Goring et al., 2012; Hadley et al., 2009), and projects are currently underway that will continue to change the way we view past environments and ecosystems.

The utility of geoscience databases relies upon data contribution and can be measured by the use of the database for educational purposes, scientific research, and policy, conservation or management outcomes. Collaborative efforts with external projects can operate synergistically to improve both data contribution and provide models for data use that can inform the development of tools for data access and manipulation. In particular, the development of web-based tools such as Application Programming Interfaces and improved data structures that link key data characteristics for analysis are critical areas for improvement that can be extensively developed through use-case scenarios.

The interdisciplinary PalEON Project (http://paleonproject.net) links fossil pollen data with historic vegetation data from the northeastern United States in an effort to improve predictions of future ecological change. To achieve this objective in a dynamic and reproducible manner, PalEON has been working with Neotoma to procure and upload data, to work toward best practices for data storage and delivery through APIs and to develop a package for the statistical programming language R (the neotoma package). Here we provide a case study of the ways in which geoinformatics projects can interact with large-scale research projects to produce synergies that benefit both organizations, and to provide data-intensive test cases with which to improve standards of practice.