South American Paleoecology Database Workshop

12.06 - 16.06.2013
Santiago, Chile
Contact person:
Claudio Latorre, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Workshop report: 
> Access

Paleoecological data are crucial for understanding the historical contingencies underlying the establishment and evolution of the biota at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Knowledge on these processes is important for conservation biology, landscapes that have been dominated by anthropic intervention for centuries or even millennia or those for which a “pristine” state occurred far in the past. These data contribute enormously to other disciplines such as ecology, archaeology and other earth sciences such as geomorphology by providing the unique historical context of a local biota.

The discipline of Paleoecology has origins that date back to the XIX Century, but it is only recently that trained scientists in South America have begun to develop their own records. This is on par with a considerable increase in the output of the field over the last few decades on a global scale. The consequence is that vast amounts of paleoecological data are being generated on how organisms change their distributions and abundance over time.

Although some of this information is published it rarely becomes available to the public domain and platforms where this data can be shared were lacking. These issues are now being addressed through the creation of the NSF-funded Neotoma database. Neotoma has the cyber-infrastructure necessary to allow for thecreation and development of paleoecological databases running on a Microsoft SQL webserver. The database can be accessed directly (and data transfer to) through the use of Tilia2.0 software.

All this content and expertise has been created in the developed world and now training is direly needed for scientists in developing countries. We thus have envisioned a workshop targeted especially at South American scientists and their research teams who would take advantage from being able to download data from this newly created platform and trained to contribute with their own data.

The workshop will run over the course of five days. The first two days will be dedicated to bringing together 15-20 senior researchers representative of different areas (palynology, diatoms, macrofossils, vertebrates, etc.) to discuss the implementation, implications and policy regulation of a paleoecological database for South America including an introduction to the Neotoma database. The remaining three days of the workshop will be used to teach the new version of Tilia2.0 and how to access the Neotoma paleoecological database. This second phase will be open to young researchers and graduate students from South American countries.