Below you’ll find the latest roundup of IM news from sites that have updates related to new staff, funding, project development.

Luquillo LTER – Miguel Leon

Greetings from the Luquillo (LUQ) LTER. I’m Miguel Leon, the newish Information Manager, starting in late 2019. I came to the LTER network after about 10 years working as data manager for the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory, where I initially started with the University of Pennsylvania while working on my Master of Urban Spatial analytics. I am based out of Philadelphia, employed by the University of New Hampshire, and split time between projects based in New Hampshire and Puerto Rico.

LUQ-LTER is developing a new version of our website, transitioning from Drupal to WordPress. We are also creating translations of our web content so that it can be viewed in both English and Spanish. We have developed a new data catalog adopted from the Beaufort Lagoon Ecosystems (BLE) LTER data catalog which queries the EDI data repository, directly eliminating the need to post data in two places. The BLE data catalog was initially developed for Squarespace and has been adopted to work in WordPress for LUQ. The new data catalog saves a significant amount of time over the DIEMS data catalog, which was time consuming to manage as datasets with large amounts of metadata were cumbersome and slow to update.

LUQ has also recently developed and posted a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) statement in both English and Spanish. Through this diversity and inclusion statement we hope to broaden the voices and viewpoints included in our scientific, mentoring and outreach activities. In developing this statement, we frame DEI in the Puerto Rican context and provide links to promote DEI within the framework of Puerto Rican society.

LUQ has also recently developed a series of ArcGIS story maps which can be found on our website to help promote the site and provide better spatial context for our research. These story maps include a general overview of the LUQ LTER (https://arcg.is/jjqWv), general GIS data and research site maps (https://arcg.is/KeTqz), LUQ LTER facilities (https://arcg.is/GHKb9), The LUQ Forest dynamics plot (https://arcg.is/0vu8TL), watershed boundaries (https://arcg.is/1S5qSX), and the Stream Flow Reduction Experiment (StreamFRE https://arcg.is/T4K0S).

Andrews Forest LTER – Suzanne Remillard, Stephanie Schmidt and Adam Kennedy

The Andrews Forest LTER learned late last year that our LTER8 proposal was awarded full funding. The research focus in the funded proposal looks at:

  • How forests influence regional climate to create local microclimate patterns in mountains.
  • How microclimate and legacies of land use and disturbance influence populations, communities and ecosystem processes.
  • How species interactions amplify or reduce responses to microclimate.
  • How values filter the use of science in land use decisions.

Though the Andrews Forest’s headquarters were spared, the Holiday Farm fire in September 2020 affected watershed studies ongoing for more than five decades, including studies of vegetation, hydrology, soil moisture, phenology and microclimate. Future research will examine how streamflow, erosion, fine-scale air temperature, vegetation, birds and other animals respond to the Holiday Farm fire and how the responses compare to past disturbances.

The entire Andrews Forest staff worked tirelessly to recover technologically after the Labor Day weekend Holiday Farm fire. The site lost power on Sept 7, 2020 at 17:05 and was reenergized on Sept 29 at 09:15. During this period, fire nibbled away at the southwest edge of the Andrews Forest research area. The burn area inside the Andrews Forest includes most of watersheds 9 and 1, and some of 2. Gauge station power and communication infrastructure were damaged, a sediment pond retaining wall burned and was replaced, and several large trees fell onto gauging station buildings. Main communication returned to the site shortly after power was restored via a wireless radio link to Oregon State University. Telemetry within the Andrews Forest was restored to the affected watersheds in the weeks following, once it was safe to re-enter the burn zone.

The Andrews Forest data collection program continues to operate normally during this time. For more information about the fire event, you can read about it here.

In other news, Don Henshaw, USFS Information Manager with the Andrews Forest, retired on January 3rd, 2020 after more than 40 years on the job. Stephanie Schmidt was hired into the position beginning in October 2020. Stephanie has familiarity with the Andrews Forest LTER and Information Management as she worked on a sensor shield comparison study at the Primary Meteorological station. Additionally, she worked with the climate and hydrology group to help develop workflows of current processes for managing both streaming and manually collected data.

In addition to learning about the various pieces that make up the Andrews Forest Information Management System and the Forest Science Databank (FSDB), the local data repository, Stephanie is picking up a few of the projects that Don had started but was unable to complete. A few examples include testing new Python versions of programs that provide customized selections for climate and hydrology data (GLITCH and FLOW), entry and viewing portals for tracking method histories over the life of hydro-meteorological data collection including the field note collecting application, and finalizing the workflow of data from GCE Toolbox to our FSDB repository and then to EDI. Stephanie brings a young and fresh perspective, including new tool skills, to a system of collecting data that is more than 40 years old.

Communication with researchers is still a high priority to ensuring that we adequately capture data collected at the Andrews Forest. Due to Covid, we were unable to conduct a data management and archiving workshop last year, but we plan to present a virtual workshop this coming Spring.

Suzanne picked up many of Don’s duties after he retired, but is thankful to now have help. She coordinates the planning and programming needs of the Andrews Information Management program, facilitates monthly meetings of the Andrews climate and hydrology Information Management team, is integral to archiving some long-term data streams of more terrestrial data like vegetation surveys and insect counts, and continues to work with researchers to archive their data collections. She also serves as IM representative on the Andrews Forest LTER Executive team and is co-chair of IMEXEC.

Northeast U.S. Shelf LTER – Stace Beaulieu

After a very challenging year, the Northeast U.S. Shelf (NES) LTER would like to provide a site byte as a “time capsule” to open and reflect back upon in the years to come. We were very fortunate in that we accomplished much of our fieldwork in 2020, although broadscale cruises were shortened or postponed. Despite the pandemic we accomplished our four planned transect cruises, and even an additional fall transect cruise. And we only missed one monthly visit in April to the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO).

However, we’d like to place the following notes into the time capsule, to remember 2020 as a year in which even the simplest of information management tasks became complicated. For example, one of this year’s strange challenges: How to get the hard drive back after each cruise? Adhering to the very necessary protocols restricting in-person access to the research vessels, we could not pick up the drive even when the ship was at our own dock! Picking up the hard drive and other physical items like log sheets became a process involving several people and sometimes stopping by people’s homes. And speaking of log sheets, to facilitate the social distancing on board the cruise, lab groups kept separate log sheets for water samples from the CTD-rosette casts. When we were cataloging rosette and plankton net samples after the cruise, we encountered another challenge unique to year 2020: How to confirm the inventory of physical samples after each cruise? In some cases we literally had to wait weeks until we could get back to the lab to count bottles! Other memories from 2020: realizing that we used a whiteboard to keep track of files uploaded into our data system and having to get special permission to go to the office to photograph the whiteboard… extremely slow file uploads due to home internet speed… and sharing screens on Zoom to train students remotely how to use version control and GitHub.

We’d like to include some special thank you notes in our 2020 time capsule. Thanks to shipboard technicians at Woods Hole and the University of Rhode Island who helped set up the event log for each transect cruise when an information manager could not go on board. And for streaming data from R/V Neil Armstrong when no one from NES LTER could go on board! Thanks to the Ocean Observatories Initiative for working with us to conduct as much of our long-term sampling plan as possible on their cruises to the Pioneer Array. And thanks to the MVCO engineering team for collecting samples when we could not join them on R/V Tioga. Looking forward to 2021!

The NES team, masked and socially distanced, on a research cruise in 2020

The NES LTER team managed to complete their shipboard research cruises in 2020 – following COVID-19 social distancing and mask restrictions.
Credit: Lynne Butler