Algal Autoecology Information Sharing Meeting

Pittsburgh, May 29, 2002

Jean Prygiel, Agence de l'Eau Artois-Picardie
Rex Lowe, Bowling Green State University
Julie Wolin, CSU
Alison Yasich, CSU
Gina LaLiberte, Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin
Jan Stevenson, Michigan State University
Rachael Fletcher, Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Jenny Winter, Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Don Charles, Patrick Center for Environmental Research
Yangdong Pan, Portland State University
Antonella Cattaneo, Université de Montréal
Michelle Bowmann, University of Alberta
John Kingston, University of Minnesota
Brian Hill, USEPA
Carol Couch, USGS
Julie Hambrook, USGS
Stephen Porter, USGS

Issues raised on discussion:

The topic discussed was the compilation of an electronic database of autoecological information for algal taxa. We talked about contributing the data from our studies, and raised several issues for further discussion.
  1. Who is the database for?
    Before the database is designed we need to decide clearly who be using it (scientists, public, non-scientists etc). Related to this was the suggestion of a tiered design, with data of increasing complexity for different groups of users. We could begin by designing a simple database and build on it later as needed.

  2. Standard format.
    We need to develop a standard format and decide what data to include e.g. the level of parameter of interest at a site at or the optimum and tolerance value; what taxa to include; what stressors to include (e.g. water chemistry, land use, pesticides, other contaminants). We should use frameworks / draw ideas from other, similar databases that have been (or are being) created e.g. NAQWA; EMAP; European Diatom Database.

  3. Including non-diatom algae.
    We should consider including information on non-diatom algae as well as diatoms.

  4. Geographic area.
    Are we primarily interested in North American data or will we include international information?

  5. Taxonomic harmonization.
    We need to ensure that results are comparable from different studies, in particular with regards to taxonomy. For example, the nomenclature used in each study must be clearly recorded; alternatively, lists of taxa could be pre-entered and participants could fill in their data / enter data via a fixed format.

  6. Review and publication.
    Ultimately we would like this to be a reviewed and citable electronic document and database. We need to investigate a format.

  7. Tools that are currently available.
    What tools are available now to interested organizations / researchers? We should explore the possibility of creating an interim, short-term database of useful information.

  8. Provide guidance for use of current methods.
    We could also collaborate on guidance for the use of various indices / approaches currently available, including practical pitfalls encountered with the use of various approaches.