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Engaging with the ecological community

More than 600 of Australia’s ecologists descended on Melbourne for the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) from 3 to 7 December. As major conference sponsors, TERN and the Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS), a TERN facility, were right in the thick of things.

The TERN exhibition booth was a hive of activity all week, with representatives engaged in conversations with conference attendees interested in taking advantage of the infrastructure now on offer through TERN. In fact, there was so much talking that one TERN team member almost lost her voice!

Conversations at the TERN exhibition booth at ESA 2012

It was encouraging to hear a number of researchers present work undertaken using TERN’s infrastructure. They included Professor David Ellsworth (University of Western Sydney) on the Eucalyptus Free–Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (EucFACE) experiment associated with the Cumberland Plains Supersite, Associate Professor Clive McAlpine (University of Queensland) on the outcomes of the ACEAS-sponsored working group that addressed the question of conserving koalas in the 21st century, and Associate Professor Glenda Wardle (University of Sydney) on studies of fire dynamics at the Desert Ecology Plot Network, part of the Long-Term Ecological Research Network.

To close the week, TERN and ACEAS were pleased to offer a workshop entitled ‘Smarter workflows for ecologists’, where we provided an overview of approaches to data management and re-use emerging globally, and the ways that TERN’s infrastructure can help researchers to work in this space.

In his introduction to the workshop, the TERN Director, Professor Tim Clancy, highlighted the changing environment for research and data management, in which there is an increasing expectation by journals and funding bodies that data will be made accessible to the wider research community. Data accessibility and data sharing create new opportunities in research, for example enabling novel modelling and addressing of issues at the scale of continents. New research infrastructure, such as that developed by TERN, is vital to making the most of this changing landscape and supporting smart workflows for researchers.

Presenters from a range of TERN facilities were on hand to discuss topics such as data collection (Associate Professor Nikki Thurgate, MSPN Director), data licensing (Ms Alison Bradshaw, TERN Licensing Coordinator), data storage and discoverability (Dr David Turner, Eco-Informatics data expert), synthesis activities (Associate Professor Alison Specht, the ACEAS Director), and modelling (Dr Gab Abramowitz, e-MAST associate). Breakout sessions gave participants an opportunity to discuss their work with TERN representatives in more detail and to get some hands-on experience with TERN infrastructure such as the TERN Data Discovery Portal, AusPlots Rangelands field data collection app, and ÆKOS portal.

Feedback from participants indicated that the workshop enhanced their understanding of new approaches to data management and the ways that they can use TERN infrastructure to achieve smarter workflows in their research. TERN will build on this to deliver more capacity building opportunities to the ecosystem science community in 2013 – stay tuned for more!

Professor Tim Clancy demonstrates the TERN Data Discovery
Portal to one of the breakout groups during the workshop
Dr David Turner from Eco-informatics presents to the
workshop group on the topic of data storage and
discoverability

Published in TERN e-Newsletter December 2012

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