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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

The handbook for standardized field and laboratory measurements in terrestrial climate change experiments and observational studies (ClimEx)

Halbritter, Aud H.; De Boeck, Hans J.; Eycott, Amy E.; Reinsch, Sabine; Robinson, David A.; Vicca, Sara; Berauer, Bernd; Christiansen, Casper T.; Estiarte, Marc; Grunzweig, Jose M.; Gya, Ragnhild; Hansen, Karin; Jentsch, Anke; Lee, Hanna; Linder, Sune; Marshall, John; Penuelas, Josep; Schmidt, Inger Kappel; Stuart-Haentjens, Ellen; Wilfahrt, Peter;
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Climate change is a world-wide threat to biodiversity and ecosystem structure, functioning and services. To understand the underlying drivers and mechanisms, and to predict the consequences for nature and people, we urgently need better understanding of the direction and magnitude of climate change impacts across the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. An increasing number of climate change studies are creating new opportunities for meaningful and high-quality generalizations and improved process understanding. However, significant challenges exist related to data availability and/or compatibility across studies, compromising opportunities for data re-use, synthesis and upscaling. Many of these challenges relate to a lack of an established 'best practice' for measuring key impacts and responses. This restrains our current understanding of complex processes and mechanisms in terrestrial ecosystems related to climate change. To overcome these challenges, we collected best-practice methods emerging from major ecological research networks and experiments, as synthesized by 115 experts from across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Our handbook contains guidance on the selection of response variables for different purposes, protocols for standardized measurements of 66 such response variables and advice on data management. Specifically, we recommend a minimum subset of variables that should be collected in all climate change studies to allow data re-use and synthesis, and give guidance on additional variables critical for different types of synthesis and upscaling. The goal of this community effort is to facilitate awareness of the importance and broader application of standardized methods to promote data re-use, availability, compatibility and transparency. We envision improved research practices that will increase returns on investments in individual research projects, facilitate second-order research outputs and create opportunities for collaboration across scientific communities. Ultimately, this should significantly improve the quality and impact of the science, which is required to fulfil society's needs in a changing world.


best practice; coordinated experiments; data management and documentation; ecosystem; experimental macroecology; methodology; open science; vegetation

Published in

Methods in Ecology and Evolution
2020, volume: 11, number: 1, pages: 22-37
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Halbritter, Aud H.
University of Bergen
De Boeck, Hans J.
University of Antwerp
Eycott, Amy E.
University of Bergen
Reinsch, Sabine
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Robinson, David A.
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Vicca, Sara
University of Antwerp
Berauer, Bernd
University of Bayreuth
Christiansen, Casper T.
University of Bergen
Estiarte, Marc
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC)
Grunzweig, Jose M.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gya, Ragnhild
University of Bergen
Hansen, Karin
Swedish Environm Protect Agcy
Jentsch, Anke
University of Bayreuth
Lee, Hanna
University of Bergen
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Penuelas, Josep
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC)
Schmidt, Inger Kappel
University of Copenhagen
Stuart-Haentjens, Ellen
Virginia Commonwealth University
Wilfahrt, Peter
University of Bayreuth
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

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