Data Availability

PPBio works on the principle that data collected on public lands, or by public officials, or by using the infrastructure provided by public funding, are public property and should be available for professionals wish to use it. The availability of PPBio data is governed by an explicit Document Data Policy (document in preparation). In essence, this states that data must be entered in the database after within months of collection, but will not made public until two-year period after entry without the permission of the person responsible for the collection of that data. After that, with a few exceptions, the data are public and freely accessible on the Internet. Restrictions on the availability of data after two years are made only if such publication could infringe the rights of third parties (e.g. traditional knowledge), or result in the exposure of species to danger (e.g. records of threatened species or those of economic value).

Several databases of biological and ecological are available, but most are of little use to anyone beyons the original collectors of the data. One of the main reasons for this is that it is not possible to build databases from which it is efficient to extract information when the general issues that motivated the data collection are not known beforehand. In contrast, PPBio databases are specifically designed for use by people interested in the distribution of biodiversity and factors affecting it. The basic data fields that allow queries are associated with geographic coordinates and dates. Data in the main files are always accompanied by detailed information about the collection effort. It is this information that allows the estimation of false absences (read more in standardization), and the estimated economic value (density) of resources.
Metadata describing the data and how they were collected. Metadata should be released immediately, sometimes even before the collection so that other researchers and managers know what is being collected and where. Metadata is essential to make the data usable by other researchers. The protocol adopted by PPBio metadata follows the EML standard. Data storage without adequate metadata is not permitted on the PPBio database system. . 

Data are always geographically explicit. PPBio data is available in four types:


(1) Data on organisms or environmental data from sites using the PPBio LTER sampling pattern. Data of this type are the most complete and the most useful for long-term monitoring and geographical comparisons. Standard environmental data are provided for plots within the PPBio grids. These are probably adequate for most analyzes. As reserves manager or researchers may have more detailed information about a particular grid, we recommend that interested researchers check data availability for specific grids when planning their studies. Studies conducting monitoring within grids must use methods described in metadata data from previous PPBio studies, or include a calibration phase within the project to ensure that data are comparable. Researchers should provide data for all PPBio modules of a given type within a grid (read more in modules), and must agree to follow the PPBio Data Policy.
(2RAP data for a specific geographic area, collected using sample plots, but not the complete PPBio LTER grid pattern system. This type of data is most useful for environmental impact studies and for extrapolation to larger areas. If these data are to be used for long term monitoring, researchers and managers must look for long-term financing, because such work is not as attractive to students and other researchers as repeat surveys (read more in field work for implementing surveys). Researchers must agree to follow the policy data PPBio.
(3) Ecological data collected pre-PPBio and using different methodologies from the PPBio standard. This data type is only available on the PPBio database if the authors provide detailed spatial and temporal metadata that potentially allow calibration of their data with the methodology currently used by PPBio (i.e., the collection effort should be stated explicitly and be repeatable). Researchers must agree to follow the PPBio data policy.
(4Ad hoc data on organism distribution. This is the data group of with the lowest quality (the third tier of Lawson et al. 2005). This kind of data is of little use except to describe the known distribution of organisms, but may be the only type of data available for high mobility species such as harpy eagles. The minimum requirements for this data type are the date and geographical coordinates. The collection effort will be unavailable. This information is provided primarily for some PPBio participants (e.g. IBAMA – the Brazilian Environmental Agency) to have easy access to data. Other databases (e.g. BIOTA-FAPESP) have already made such data available in a useful form for localities records based on specimens deposited in collections. Despite this not be a major focus of PPBio inventories component, is a major focus of PPBio Biological Collections component, and stakeholders who have collected specimens should contact appropriate PPBio Collections Component coordinators.
The identification and the safe storage of specimens in museums are essential if biological surveys are to be effective. This is the responsibility of the PPBio Biological Collections component. When and where material deposited in museums was originally collected can be very useful. Consequently, all identifications field collected material used in PPBio Inventories must be accompanied by data which allows reference to material deposited in museums. This means collecting information field numbers and museum reference numbers. The PPBio information sector is developing methods of online information integration for field and museum records.

Data availability is very important financially to PPBio. It is the collaboration and the availability of integrated data that make research in PPBio grids so attractive. Without this, the program would have to directly fund all monitoring using funding from government sources or private organizations, and this is not feasible.