DEVELOPING SYNERGIES BETWEEN LARGE-SCALE RESEARCH AND GEODATABASES: NEOTOMA AND PALEON
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.