the value of scientific data confessions of an applied environmental scientist

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The value of scientific data confessions of an applied environmental scientist. Neil Burrows Science Division Department of Environment & Conservation Western Australia. Becoming a scientist; destiny or serendipity?. From fighter pilot to fire ecologist?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • The value of scientific dataconfessions of an applied environmental scientist

    Neil BurrowsScience Division

    Department of Environment & Conservation Western Australia

    Slide courtesy N. Burrows

  • Becoming a scientist; destiny or serendipity? From fighter pilot

    to fire ecologist?

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  • Science & ScientistsIdentify the problem and define the research question(s)Do background research Formulate a hypothesis Test hypothesis by experimentation Collect dataAnalyze data and draw conclusions Communicate findings

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  • Role of science in conservation & land management

    Science informs policy, planning and decision makingScience underpins conservation and land management actionsEngenders political & community confidenceAgency credibility

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  • Data acquisitionKnowledge from data gathered via;

    Experimental researchSurveyMonitoringAdaptive management The global science network

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  • Life as an applied scientist:experimental design and implementationIdentify the variables to be measuredDetermine procedures for measuring/collecting dataEstablish experimental sites Implement treatments, collect data Enter and check dataAnalyse & interpret data Present dataPublish & communicate findingsDetermine implications of findings and transfer knowledge (tech transfer, knowledge uptake)Move on to next research program

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  • Something missing? The ConfessionWhat happens to the data?A small subset are publishedMost stagnate in personal filing cabinets, computers, notebooks, field sheets, etc Sometimes thrown out!

    Why bother with post-research data management?

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  • Bushfire Management

    Fire Management ObjectivesProtect life, property and ecosystem services from wildfires Protect biodiversity & ecosystem healthReduce greenhouse gas emissions

    Fire Management Strategies Planned (prescribed) burning Fire detection Fire suppression

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  • Research to underpin bushfire managementFire behaviourFire ecology and impactsForestsHummock grasslands

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  • Fire Behaviour ResearchObjective: To model the behaviour of bushfires in order to:Forecast fire dangerPredict fire behaviour

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  • Field-based (empirical) approachIdentify and measure variables thought to influence fire behaviour FuelWeather TopographyMeasure fire behaviour variablesFlame rates of spreadFlame dimensions Fire intensity (killing power)Fire perimeter & area growthModel relationships

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  • Data collection (field work)~250 experimental and wildfires over 15 yearsEstablish experimental plots~3,000 sample points ~10 attributes at each pointConduct exp. burns10 person years of field workField work cost ~ $3M

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  • Managing the data (office work) Clean-up and entryAnalysisWrite-up Converting data into knowledge: Communication & tech transfer35 person yearsCost ~3.5M

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  • Science Division of the WA Department of Environment & Conservation (DEC)~130 science projects174 staffAnnual expenditure ~$20MGenerating 10x pieces of data each year

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  • The $ cost of collecting and working with data DEC Science DivisionAnnual research budget ~$20M or ~$200M per decade.Data cost component of this is ~ $150M per decade.

    DATA ARE VERY VALUABLE!

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  • Importance of good data managementData have high $ valueData = knowledge = power & influence!Protect data from loss or misuse Responsibility & accountability - usually a 3rd party has paid for dataTradable

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  • Importance of good data managementValue add, re-analyse (e.g., climate change, new techniques)SharedAvoids duplicationSome data are irreplaceable (unique)

    WE NEED A DATA MANAGEMENT PLAN

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  • Data management: some attributesDatabase structureLogical directories or filesNamedEasy to accessRelationships with other databasesData warehouseSecureAccessible (input and extract)Maintain integrity of data

    Data mobilityEasy to move/transferHardware/software compatibilityData miningDatabase administrationDedicated resourcesCorporate systems

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  • ConclusionsWe live in a world dependent on knowledge and information for sustainable developmentData are valuable at many levelsNeed (and legal obligation) for institutions to develop systems & infrastructure to preserve, protect and facilitate access to data Good data management = we work more efficiently and effectively as an individual and as an agency

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  • Thank You(Blood, Sweat. and Beers!)

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    Ecosystem and organism responses to fire is quite variable: Some ecosystems and organisms are quite resilient to frequent fire and recover quickly, but others are more sensitive to fire and take longer to recover. Our scientific understanding, as incomplete as it is, tells us that no single fire regime benefits all organisms, but fire diversity can promote biodiversity at the landscape scale. So for biodiversity conservation and for the protection of life and property, bushfires must be managed, not simply put out. In fire-prone ecosystems, fire management is integral to conservation and land management.

    Variables: The experiment will contain an element or elements that do not change (called controlled variables or dependent variables) and elements that will change (called manipulated variables or independent variables).Control: The control is a particular sample that is treated the same as all the rest of the samples except that it is not exposed to manipulated variables.Observation: When you interact with your experiment, you are using your senses to observe. Does it have a smell, make a noise have color, etc.?Collect Data: As you observe your experiment, you will need to record the progress of your experiment. Data can be whatever you observe about your experiment that may or may not change during the time of the experimentation. Examples of data are values in pH, temperature, a measurement of growth, color, distance, etc.Journal: All scientists keep a record of their observations in some form of a journal. The journal will begin with the date and time the experimentor collects the data. Sometimes data will include environmental values such as humidity, temperature, etc. Entries must be written clearly and with detail of description so that another scientist can read the journal, simulate the conditions of the experiment, and repeat the experiment exactly.