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Integrating Ecological Data Over Space and
Time: Challenges for the Future 1
Robert B. Waide 2
Abstract-Most ecological data are collected with the intent of
examining specific hypotheses or questions. These questions are
often framed in a way to permit the collection of data at small-scales
and over short periods of time, in part because our academic and
governmental institutions provide strong positive feedback for
studies that are completed and published quickly. However, the
extrapolation of results from these small-scale, short-term studies
to larger areas or longer time frames can lead to misleading or
erroneous conclusions. Results from the Long-Term Ecological
Research Network in the United States suggest that some observed
patterns in ecological data may be scale dependent and that examining the same data set at different scales of focus may lead to
completely opposite conclusions. Matching patterns observed in the
field with theory must be done cautiously to insure that purported
causal factors operate at the same scale as the collection of data.
Data collected at different scales may be compared, but only when
observed patterns are scale-invariant. These problems make the
integration of ecological data collected for different purposes and in
different ways an important challenge that must be addressed in
order to develop appropriate monitoring protocols.
Ipaper presented at the North American Science Symposium: Toward a
Unified Framework for Inventorying and Monitoring Forest Ecosystem
Resources, Guadalajara, Mexico, November 1-6,1998.
2Robert B. Waide is Executive Director, LTERNetwork Office, University
of New Mexico, 801 University Blvd. SE., Suite 104, Albuquerque, NM 87106.
Telephone: (505) 272-7311; Fax: (505) 272-7080.
USDA Forest Service Proceedings RMRS-P-12. 1999