Global data base
A continuing problem in analyzing the world’s
vegetation is that the great majority of data have
been collected by different agencies for different
purposes at different scales. This creates problems
for comparing vegetation in a uniform way within
and between regions. The VegClass method provides
a generic (standard) protocol for rapid recording
of vegetation that facilitates uniform comparison
of similarly collected data worldwide.
A core aim of CBM is to provide a readily accessible
database of VegClass sites from as many global environmental
conditions as possible. If sufficient data are
collected this will not only permit users to compare
their data with other global sites but will provide
a working platform for global agencies and conventions
concerned with developing and testing models to forecast
the impact of global change on vegetation. Because
VegClass uses PFTs that are constructed according to
presumed adaptive morphologies, changes in PFT assemblages
can be shown to represent associated changes in the
The global data set
CBM has a core data set of more than 1900 VegClass sites (40x5m transects) collected from many areas of the world over the past 30 years. These include for example, hot and cold deserts, cool temperate (arcto-boreal) and hot tropical and tropi-calpine locations as well as a wide range of land use systems and land use intensity gradients. Recent data from Central Asia (Outer Mongolia) and the Central Caucasus mountains of Georgia, Kamchatka (Russia) the Baltic countries (Estonia) and Scandinavia (Norwegian Arctic) (see Activities) have helped fill important data gaps. Data from earlier collections are currently being carefully checked before being released in the public domain.
The CBM (VegClass) dataset is unique in several key respects: Whereas many global data sets are compiled from data collected by different workers for ifferent reasons, using different methods, the VegClass data are collected according to a standard protocol (see ‘Publications’ on this website). This ensures that data acquired from different localities and regions are amenable to comparative analysis. Further, the data from each transect contain key biophysical site data that facilitates correlative analyses between biotic and abiotic variables. At biome level these data have been instrumental in developing new approaches to studies of circumboreal vegetation as well as providing new, global syntheses that show predictive relationships between climate and plant functional types (see Gillison, 2012, and 2013 in publications). The past decade has seen dramatic advances in the use of plant functional types and traits as another complementary means of assessing, documenting and managing ecosystem services. CBM was one of the first organizations to develop a system of a set of assembly rules for PFTs and individual traits in a way that could be used directly in biodiversity assessment (see Gillison et al. 2013). The worldwide collection of PFT data is an integral part of the VegClass dataset.
One cornerstone of the CBM mission is to ensure that the data set is of highest quality. When this is achieved it is intended to make these data available to researchers in the public domain with a release targeted for mid-2015.