4. INTEGRATING ACTIVITIES
Convenors: UCL, NIVA, UiB(BI)
The three field-based work packages described above are being linked and given coherence by a programme of integrated activities that ensures the standardisation and harmonisation of field and laboratory methods, the reporting of data, centralised storage, retrieval and analysis of data, and the presentation and dissemination of results.
4.2 Specific objectives
- to coordinate a programme of standardized and quality controlled field and analytical methods;
- to extend and further develop an integrated and harmonized database;
- to ensure the optimal use of database information to facilitate the application of multivariate statistical and modelling techniques to provide an integrated assessment of project results;
- to further develop a multidisciplinary network of environmental scientists to coordinate research, exchange knowledge and disseminate findings from studies of mountain lakes.
4.3 Project description
4.3.1 Standardization and quality control of field and laboratory methods
Standardised protocols for field sampling, laboratory analyses, chemical AQC and biological harmonisation was one of the strengths of the AL:PE project. These have been amended and/or extended within MOLAR to account for new determinations and/or improvements in available methods. A series of workshops was held at the beginning of the project and detailed manuals produced and distributed to all participating groups. Protocols are reviewed and laboratory performance reviewed at regular workshops throughout the project.
Rigorous data quality control procedures for water chemistry, coordinated by CNR and NIVA, were established within AL:PE and a programme of inter-laboratory calibration exercises instigated. In MOLAR, quality control and intercalibration has been extended to new determinands and to deposition measurements. The intercalibration programme has been extended to outside laboratories and linked to that managed by NIVA for the UNECE International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Acidification of Rivers and Lakes (ICP Waters).
A system of sample exchange and workshops has been instigated to develop and extend the programme of taxonomic harmonisation established in AL:PE. In addition to the biological parameters central to work package 3 and the coordinating laboratories responsible for these (see Section 3.4.4), taxonomic harmonisation for all macroinvertebrates and zooplankton (work package 1) is coordinated by UiB(ZI) and FSCU respectively. The programme of quality control for invertebrates is linked to that currently managed by UiB(ZI) for the UNECE ICP Waters. NIVA oversees the analysis of test-fishing data within work packages 1 and 2 and a system of scale exchange is coordinated to harmonise determination of fish age.
4.3.2 Database development and statistical analysis
As primary biological, chemical, and physical data become available from the various study sites in the AL:PE and MOLAR projects, it is essential that a centralised database be established and maintained. This includes, in a consistent and structured way, all the available geographical, climatic, catchment environmental, lake chemical, lake physical, lake biological, and sediment chemical and biological data. Such a database is required not only to serve as a primary archive of AL:PE/MOLAR data but also to provide a basis for collating related high-quality data from relevant national projects and to provide data for subsequent statistical analysis, for the development of empirical models, and for the validation of process-based models. The database can be augmented by additional data that meet the AQC requirements of AL:PE and MOLAR from other projects. By having all the data available in a centralised database, there is ease of access and data retrieval for all subsequent data analysis and/or modelling.
The database is of the relational type and uses ACCESS software. This will allow ease of exchange of data between laboratories and ease of data input via EXCELL.
Statistical analyses will be implemented to address a range of questions. Exploratory data analysis prior to any statistical analysis will be done using SYGRAPH, CALI, CANODRAW, TILIA-GRAPH and TRANSFOR to look for outlying values and to assess the need for data transformations. Basic statistical analyses will be done using SX, SYSTAT, and GENSTAT, whereas multivariate analysis of data from several sites will involve CANOCO, TWINSPAN, CLUSTER, and SIRIUS. More specialised software (e.g. WACALIB, CALI) will be used for reconstructing lake-water pH from diatom assemblages preserved in the lake sediments.
The database is being developed and maintained by UiB(BI) in conjunction with UCL, NIVA, UiB(ZI) and other AL:PE/MOLAR laboratories and centres.
4.3.3 Dissemination of results
Data and preliminary findings from the project are discussed and ratified at workshops and meetings of the scientists involved in each work package and at annual meetings of the full MOLAR group. Results are presented in annual reports and consolidated in the final report. Particular emphasis is placed on publishing the protocols and results of the project in the international scientific literature, with the ultimate aim to produce a detailed summary of the AL:PE/MOLAR projects in book form. The AL:PE/MOLAR database will be expanded and links with other international scientists encouraged, through presentation of MOLAR findings at national and international conferences and by organising an international conference on remote mountain lake ecosystems under the auspices of the MOLAR Steering Group. We will also ensure that the results are made available to environmental managers, decision makers and teachers, both at the national and European levels.