Environmental science


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 660 Views Oct 20, 2023

Ecological and evolutionary studies often require high quality biodiversity data. This information is readily available through the many online databases that have compiled biodiversity data from herbaria, museums, and human observations. However, the process of preparing this information for analysis is complex and time consuming. In this study, we have developed a protocol in R language to process spatial data (download, merge, clean, and correct) and extract climatic data, using some genera of the ginseng family (Araliaceae) as an example. The protocol provides an automated way to process spatial and climatic data for numerous taxa independently and from multiple online databases. The script uses GBIF, BIEN, and WorldClim as the online data sources, but can be easily adapted to include other online databases. The script also uses genera as the sampling unit but provides a way to use species as the target. The cleaning process includes a filter to remove occurrences outside the natural range of the taxa, gardens, and other human environments, as well as erroneous locations and aspatial correction for misplaced occurrences (i.e., occurrences within a distance buffer from the coastal boundary). Additionally, each step of the protocol can be run independently. Thus, the protocol can begin with data cleaning, if the database has already been compiled, or with climatic data extraction, if the database has already been parsed. Each line of the R script is commented so that it can also be run by users with little knowledge of R.

0 Q&A 3426 Views Mar 20, 2020
Field studies that simulate the effects of climate change are important for a predictive understanding of ecosystem responses to a changing environment. Among many concerns, regional warming can result in advanced timing of spring snowmelt in snowpack dependent ecosystems, which could lead to longer snow-free periods and drier summer soils. Past studies investigating these impacts of climate change have manipulated snowmelt with a variety of techniques that include manual snowpack alteration with a shovel, infrared radiation, black sand and fabric covers. Within these studies however, sufficient documentation of methods is limited, which can make experimental reproduction difficult. Here, we outline a detailed plot-scale protocol that utilizes a permeable black geotextile fabric deployed on top of an isothermal spring snowpack to induce advanced snowmelt. The method offers a reliable and cost-effective approach to induce snowmelt by passively increasing solar radiation absorption at the snow surface. In addition, control configurations with no snowpack manipulation are paired adjacent to the induced snowmelt plot for experimental comparison. Past and ongoing deployments in Colorado subalpine ecosystems indicate that this approach can accelerate snowmelt by 14-23 days, effectively mimicking snowmelt timing at lower elevations. This protocol can be applied to a variety of studies to understand the hydrological, ecological, and geochemical impacts of regional warming in snowpack dependent ecosystems.

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