Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

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#41)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Erik Danielsen » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:18 pm

Don,

Thanks, that clears it up a bit. At the moment when I do collect coordinates on specific trees I'm just doing so with an iphone- which I understand is fairly accurate if you give it a bit of time. I'm planning to get a proper GPS unit soon as this iphone is from work and my personal phone is pretty much useless.

The "pinning" I'm referring to is just that, actually- I drop a pin on the map in google earth and enter the coordinates in my spreadsheets accordingly. If the features of the site are easy to trace in the aerial view I'll move the pin around to get closer coordinates to where the individual trees were located, but for many it's not possible to get more than a vague approximation. Again I'm not sure if this makes much of a practical difference for likely applications of the data, just means the repeatability of those measurements is minimal (say I measured a half-dozen red oaks for height only as general canopy height references within a particular section- there'll be no way to pick out each one to match it to the resulting measurement on-site in the future).

When coordinates are approximate in that fashion (which is the case for almost everything I've measured until very recently) I'll be sure to note it in the comments field.
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#42)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:17 pm

Ents,

  Based on his email of yesterday, John Peterson starts building the NTS-VA Tech website today. We're set on the tree record layout. Two key points on it. Latitude and longitude must be in decimal degrees. Dates need to be in an Excel-reconized date format.

  I'm presently helping Dale Luthringer and Larry Tucei  convert their spreadsheet data to the standard record format. Within my available time. I'm happy to help others.

  I don't want to sound too promotional, but this new partnership with VA Tech is for me a dream come true. We've been an Internet interest group since around 1994 when we started on a small server in Chicopee Mass. We had 125 members then, but the server was to slow. I think it was at Joe Zorzn's recommendation that we switched to Topica. Later we switched to Google. It was better, but not good enough. Ed Frank came to our rescue and created this amazing BBS that we have now. There is no way that we can ever thank Ed enough for what he did. And his creation continues to serve to this day.

   Along the way, We've played with various database ideas to include a huge effort by Mitch Galehouse. That database still exists as does many private databases mostly in the form of Excel workbooks. However, our data is so scattered that it loses much of its power to educate others. Can you imagine a researcher looking to collect NTS data on say tuliptrees? What's current? What's not? Where are the data? There is no way a researcher can efficiently assemble the data and organize it for research purposes without a monumental effort. But now, we have a way out of the fog by partnering with VA Tech. We also gain standing among academic and professional groups.

   Here's a concern. Do we become separated from our data and find our numbers floating around the Internet without us being credited as the source? I've been assured that credits will be given. But, basically, members of the public can pull numbers from our posts now. I don't think we lose any security with VA Tech. Still, it is up to each member to sign on and store his/her data on the new website. e should not be pulling data from the BBS posts that others have contributed and submitting it. Each contributor should submit only his/her data.

Bob
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#43)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Don » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:14 pm

Bob/NTS members-
For some time now, NTS members have, as a labor of love, quantified the superlative forests around them.  With encouragement to measure as accurately as possible, scads of data over the years (dare we say decades?!) has been collected.. We were, I think, functioning as citizen scientists.  

Along the way, some us began to realize that some sort of organization of this data could really be useful. It has just been recently that an alliance with Virginia Tech could be the opportunity we've been looking for. As you can see from Bob's post above, that solution is in process as we speak. Hundreds of records are being entered, as we speak.  It's happening!

What we were missing was a common format, with common fields, so that we could relate each others data. All of a sudden, instead of 37 separate spreadsheets of local data, we could consider each of the local, personal datasets to be samples from a much larger population (at a minimum, the Northeastern and Southeastern US). With search options that would permit significant number of ecological queries of a spatial database.

Even greater in my mind, would be to take advantage of the incredibly rich ecological data narratives we call "Reports".  Given coordinate points associated with the areas of interest that each of us has 'reported' on, those reports could be accessed from the Comments field, as a hypertext that accessed the NTS BBS, providing a richness of ecological data seldom associated with spreadsheets.

So I ask the Brians, and Turners, and Jess's, and Dougs, and Wills, and Tylers and all the rest of you, do you want to make your Trip Reports available in this context. Your name would be associated up front with the Trip Report, along with dates, etc.  

It's my sense that this is a 'watershed event', and leap forward for NTS.  We hope to hear from you!
-Don
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#44)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:56 am

Ents,

 The following list includes everyone that has given the green light to the NTS-VA Tech database. If I have left anyone off, I apologize. Just let us know. Some members are Cadre only.

               
                       
Screen shot 2017-01-30 at 8.48.14 AM.png
                                       
               


  When VA Tech completes setting up the website and database, John Peterson will begin signing in members. We'll need to provide the necessary contact information. Stay tuned. The key point is that if you are not on John's list, you can't post to the database.

Bob
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#45)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Don » Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:22 pm

A second key point, those included in Bob's NTS-VA Tech DB Participants might want to assemble the trip reports that had a more or less direct association with actual trees in the Database, and perhaps even refine them "for prime time".  We're (Bob, I, John Peters) adding one more field...[herald of trumpets] for hyper-texted NTS Trip Reports.

I think that the NTS Trip Reports will be an incredibly valuable addition, and hope that we can put together a couple of dozen representative examples of what we have to offer, in the short term...and over the next month have many more located, refined, and submitted to the NTS/VA Tech DB.  Initially there might be a learning curve, getting them into HTML format, but Bob and I will do all we can to smooth that out!

Entry requirements?  We're putting them in a "relational database", and the Trip Reports should "relate" to DB trees, by virtue of their close proximity to:
1)DB tree's lat/long coordinates, and/or
2)Site, or sub-site naming. For example, if you measured a tree in Hearts' Content, and completed a "Hearts' Content" Trip Report of the area while you were there, then that narrative would be incredibly enriching of the data.  It's my understanding that because we're hypertexting the Trip Report, not only would the narrative be accessible, so would the photos and graphics you included.
-Don
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#46)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby Don » Mon Jan 30, 2017 6:23 pm

Don wrote:A second key point, those included in Bob's NTS-VA Tech DB Participants might want to assemble the trip reports that had a more or less direct association with actual trees in the Database, and perhaps even refine them "for prime time".  We're (Bob, I, John Peters) adding one more field...[herald of trumpets] for hyper-texted NTS Trip Reports.

I think that the NTS Trip Reports will be an incredibly valuable addition, and hope that we can put together a couple of dozen representative examples of what we have to offer, in the short term...and over the next month have many more located, refined, and submitted to the NTS/VA Tech DB.  Initially there might be a learning curve, getting them into HTML format, but Bob and I will do all we can to smooth that out!

Entry requirements?  We're putting them in a "relational database", and the Trip Reports should "relate" to DB trees, by virtue of their close proximity to:
1)DB tree's lat/long coordinates, and/or
2)Site, or sub-site naming. For example, if you measured a tree in Hearts' Content, and completed a "Hearts' Content" Trip Report of the area while you were there, then that narrative would be incredibly enriching of the data.  It's my understanding that because we're hypertexting the Trip Report, not only would the narrative be accessible, so would the photos and graphics you included.
This is soooo cool!
-Don
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#47)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby DougBidlack » Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:08 am

Don,

so now that you've started talking about a relational database I have a question about what might be possible regarding multiple measurements of the same tree over time.  So far, everybody has been talking about how all of these tree measurements over a large area will better help us to see the pattern of tree heights and sizes in the US and perhaps, one day, to other countries as well.  But what about the process of how those trees got there?  If we don't know much about tree sizes, we know even less about tree growth.  It would be nice to add that fourth dimension of time with a relational database.  Is this possible or is it too much to ask at this point?  I mostly ask because it will be easier to set up the database if this is thought about from the very beginning.

Doug
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#48)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:03 am

Doug,

  I'll take a crack at answering the question you asked. The NTS record key looks like this:

  SS-xxxxxx-NNN-yy. The SS is the state abbreviation (e.g. MA for Mass). The xxxxxx is a sequential number identifying the tree. NNN is the measurer's initials. Lastly, yy is a sequence number ( 01, 02, 03, etc.) for the particular tree. So, MA-000001-RTL-01 and MA-000001-RTL-02 would represent the same tree measured presumably at different times. The date field should give the dates of measurement. From the key field, we can select a particular tree and print out all if its measurements.

  John Peterson is currently working on the website and database. Since VA Tech are doing this for us quid pro quo, I'm reluctant to ask for too much early on unless we are all on board with a feature. More details are coming by week's end.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest

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#49)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby DougBidlack » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:06 pm

Bob,

that sounds great!  Your long term measurements of white pines will be especially valuable when it comes to assessing growth of large members of that species.  Looking forward to it.

Doug
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#50)  Re: Link to Virginia Tech Dendrology Lab

Postby dbhguru » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:10 am

Ents,

  The current sign-up list for the NTS-VA Tech website & database follows. If I've left anyone off or included anyone who doesn't want to be on the list, please let me know. When the site is up and running, if you aren't signed in, you won't be able to add/edit tree measurements. It is the individual's call.

Name

Neal Bamesberger
Brian Beduhn
Don Bertolette
Doug Bidlack
Bart Bouricius
Don Bragg
Darian Copiz
Erik Danielsen
Michael Davie
Eli Dickerson
John Harvey
Bob Leverett
Jared Lockwood
Dale Luthringer
Matt Markworth
Kevin Martin
Joli McCathran
Tyler Phillips
Jess Riddle
Turner Sharp
Sam Stoddard
Michael Taylor
Larry Tucei
Elijah Whitcomb


Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Co-founder and President
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