The LOTVS project welcomes data collected from permanent plots. This includes observations of natural or semi-natural vegetation on a regular basis. These are the criteria for the inclusion of data in the LOTVS database:
- Datasets should include permanent plots sampled for a minimum of six years, on a yearly basis. In principle, the contributed time-series should be complete, i.e. they should show no gaps. Exceptionally, however, we accept incomplete time-series, provided that the number of missing years is relatively small and irregularly distributed within a time series. In some cases, multiple samples within a year are considered as well.
- As long as the vegetation sampling approach is consistent over the years, we welcome datasets using different measures of species abundance, like frequency, biomass, or number of individuals.
- The location of permanent plots should be fixed, i.e. the coordinates of the sampling site should be maintained in time.
- Data based uniquely on presence-absence of species will not be considered (unless used to calculate frequency, e.g. the presence-absence in 100 10x10cm sub-quadrats of a 1m2 quadrat).
- Samples should be spatially replicated in the same habitat: i.e. a minimum of three plots from a given site, or meta community, should be provided.
- Plots should be representative of natural or semi-natural vegetation, including control conditions from experiments. Different types of experimental treatments (e.g. climatic, fire, grazing, and nutrient manipulation) can be also considered. For example, plots in fertilized vegetation, or vegetation after grazing exclusion are included in the collection. However, communities developed from artificial seed mixtures are presently excluded from LOTVS.
Here you can see an example of the composition data that can be provided for the LOTVS project (in this specific case 3 replicate plots with the same grassland management and within given location are considered; data is biomass in grams). Please contact us in case of doubts and questions and if you would be interested to contribute to LOTVS and your data fits, in principle, the methodology of the project.
While we generally support the concept of free data, we understand that collecting data from permanent plots is very time consuming. As such, we fully respect the choices of the data contributors as regards the fate of their data. Long-term vegetation sampling is a tremendous effort and should not go unacknowledged. In order to have data contributors remain in charge and control of their data, we have devised a three-level data policy so that data owners can decide how open they want their data to be within the LOTVS platform. These three levels restrict the access and availability of the data from fully restricted data to freely usable data (see details below).
In order to use the data from LOTVS, a short scientific proposal (see below in «Request data through a scientific proposal»), describing the broad aims and data required, has to be submitted to the supervising committee. This committee (a) ensures communication across different proposals in order to avoid overlap of manuscripts (b) works to provide guidance on procedures and authorship guidelines, and (c) serves as the body of last resort for resolution of authorship disputes within the LOTVS platform. Once the proposal has been reviewed by the supervising committee, the applicant(s) will be informed about the decision regarding the proposal. The data will be released to the applicant(s) only for the purpose described in the proposal, and further use, storage, or distribution of the data is prohibited to protect the rights and interest of the original data owners.
Levels of data accessibility:
Level 1: Restricted data
These data are only released on a case-by-case basis after a data inquiry made by an applicant has been checked and approved by the ‘supervising committee’ and the original data owners. Requests to access restricted data are received and handled by the LOTVS ‘supervising committee’, and forwarded to the data owners. Data owners have, generally, three weeks to review and approve applications. If during this period no feedback from data owners has been received by the consortium, the data will not be released to the applicant, but a set of reminders will be issued to the data owners if they don’t respond to the initial request. Data owners hold the right to request authorship on each publication resulting from the applicant’s work based on the requested data.
Level 2: Partly restricted data
These data are generally available but, before they can be released, they also require an application (in the form of a scientific proposal, more info below) to be submitted by the potential user and reviewed by both the ‘supervising committee’ and the data owners. The same reviewing period of three weeks for the data owner as for level 1 data applies, but if during this period no feedback from the data owner has been received by the consortium, the data will be released to the applicant. Only if the data owner has replied to the application within the three week period he can request co-authorship on the resulting works. Otherwise the data will be released to the applicant without the need to consider the data owner(s) for co-authorship.
Level 3: Free data
These data are considered freely available to scientists and the public through the LOTVS platform, although a scientific proposal for using them is also expected to avoid overlaps with other LOTVS studies. No consent from the data owners is required for their release, nor will they be listed as co-authors on resulting works.
Request data through a scientific proposal
To obtain data from the LOTVS collection, an informal, maximum one page application should be presented (template available here). The document should contain:
- Names of the researchers that are going to be involved in analysing the data and writing the publication.
- A short descriptive title of the proposed project.
- An abstract of the theoretical background for the study and the planned analyses involved.
- A paragraph with the targeted questions or hypotheses the projects aims to tackle.
- Ideally we would welcome a pre-selection of datasets which you intend to use (to select these datasets, see here, i.e. the LOTVS metadata,).
Once the proposal is submitted, it will be evaluated by the supervising committee which will get back to you as soon as humanly possible!