DATABASES: Big-Picture Ecology

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Science  30 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5671, pp. 657
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5671.657b

Ecologists coined the term “biocomplexity” to describe broad questions such as the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem function. The new field is the subject of these two sites. The Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity is a catalog of some 1700-and-counting data sets collected by ecologists and environmental scientists. The offerings cover everything from bacterial abundance along the Georgia coast to the impact of gophers on plant growth in abandoned California farm fields. Contributors include the federal Long Term Ecological Research stations. You can access many data sets directly; for others, the site provides contact information for the authors. There's also free software for downloading and analyzing data from the collection.

Keep track of the field's vocabulary with the Biocomplexity Thesaurus from the federal National Biological Information Infrastructure. From “genetic isolation” to “nitrogen fixation,” the tool helps you see the relations between terms and ideas.


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