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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

sPlotOpen - An environmentally balanced, open-access, global dataset of vegetation plots

Sabatini, Francesco Maria; Lenoir, Jonathan; Hattab, Tarek; Arnst, Elise Aimee; Chytry, Milan; Dengler, Juergen; De Ruffray, Patrice; Hennekens, Stephan M.; Jandt, Ute; Jansen, Florian; Jimenez-Alfaro, Borja; Kattge, Jens; Levesley, Aurora; Pillar, Valerio D.; Purschke, Oliver; Sandel, Brody; Sultana, Fahmida; Aavik, Tsipe; Acic, Svetlana; Acosta, Alicia T. R.;
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Motivation Assessing biodiversity status and trends in plant communities is critical for understanding, quantifying and predicting the effects of global change on ecosystems. Vegetation plots record the occurrence or abundance of all plant species co-occurring within delimited local areas. This allows species absences to be inferred, information seldom provided by existing global plant datasets. Although many vegetation plots have been recorded, most are not available to the global research community. A recent initiative, called 'sPlot', compiled the first global vegetation plot database, and continues to grow and curate it. The sPlot database, however, is extremely unbalanced spatially and environmentally, and is not open-access. Here, we address both these issues by (a) resampling the vegetation plots using several environmental variables as sampling strata and (b) securing permission from data holders of 105 local-to-regional datasets to openly release data. We thus present sPlotOpen, the largest open-access dataset of vegetation plots ever released. sPlotOpen can be used to explore global diversity at the plant community level, as ground truth data in remote sensing applications, or as a baseline for biodiversity monitoring. Main types of variable contained Vegetation plots (n = 95,104) recording cover or abundance of naturally co-occurring vascular plant species within delimited areas. sPlotOpen contains three partially overlapping resampled datasets (c. 50,000 plots each), to be used as replicates in global analyses. Besides geographical location, date, plot size, biome, elevation, slope, aspect, vegetation type, naturalness, coverage of various vegetation layers, and source dataset, plot-level data also include community-weighted means and variances of 18 plant functional traits from the TRY Plant Trait Database. Spatial location and grain Global, 0.01-40,000 m(2). Time period and grain 1888-2015, recording dates. Major taxa and level of measurement 42,677 vascular plant taxa, plot-level records. Software format Three main matrices (.csv), relationally linked.


big data; biodiversity; biogeography; database; functional traits; macroecology; vascular plants; vegetation plots

Published in

Global Ecology and Biogeography
2021, volume: 30, number: 9, pages: 1740-1764
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Sabatini, Francesco Maria
Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
Lenoir, Jonathan
Universite de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV)
Hattab, Tarek
Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD)
Hattab, Tarek
Universite de Montpellier
Arnst, Elise Aimee
Landcare Research - New Zealand
Chytry, Milan
Masaryk University Brno
Dengler, Juergen
Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Dengler, Juergen
University of Bayreuth
De Ruffray, Patrice
Universites de Strasbourg Etablissements Associes
Hennekens, Stephan M.
Wageningen University and Research
Jandt, Ute
Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
Jansen, Florian
University of Rostock
Jimenez-Alfaro, Borja
University of Oviedo
Kattge, Jens
Max Planck Society
Levesley, Aurora
University of Leeds
Pillar, Valerio D.
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
Purschke, Oliver
Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg
Sandel, Brody
Santa Clara University
Sultana, Fahmida
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST)
Aavik, Tsipe
University of Tartu
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

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