Implementing Ecological Metadata Language in a Cross-Disciplinary Environmental Monitoring Database


The Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, a collaboration of the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, the US Forest Service and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, has been collecting and federating a range of data about Vermont’s forested ecosystems since the early 1990s. As part of its central mission, the VMC maintains a database ranging from near-real-time air-borne mercury sampling to avian demographic surveys to forest health measurements to long-term soil monitoring data, among others. In addition to the data, a documentation system developed over the years has driven a website to expose metadata and, in most cases, data downloads, but a need for more standardization in this metadata documentation led to the implementation of Ecological Metadata Language (EML). EML was developed for use in the ecological sciences, necessitating a fairly flexible standard to deal with the wide range of potential datasets, and is the standard employed by the Long-Term Ecological Research Network in the United States. This poster describes the process of upgrading VMC’s data documentation to EML, the gains realized in delivering discoverable data via VMC’s metadata-driven website, future plans for federation to other catalogs, and the resulting status of the VMC database and website, which can be used to discover millions of records of ecological monitoring information in the state.