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r16 - 18 Jan 2012 - 03:29:40 - NickSpencerYou are here: TWiki >  Vegetation Web > WebHome

Welcome to the Vegetation web


The Vegetation Observations Data Exchange Task Group is a subgroup of the Observations and Specimen Records Interest Group and is seeking to construct an international exchange standard or schema for vegetation plot data that can be used by groups who are engaged in studies of vegetation community structure. A new schema is required because existing schemas such as Darwin Core v.2 and the ABCD standard only allow exchange of spatial and temporal occurrence information for individual specimens from biological collections and these are not adequate for community sampling because the information required goes beyond specimen occurrence data.

A new effort to develop a core semantic model for observational data in the ecological and environmental sciences is underway (TDWG Observations Task group). While this observational data model has much potential for unifying all observational data, it is still several years away. The creation of a VPS exchange schema (Veg-X) will provide the immediate opportunity to begin organizing vegetation data, and making them available to the entire ecological community. Veg-X will also hopefully assist in the developing observational ontology.


  • Nick Spencer* (Landcare Research Ltd, NZ)
  • Robert Peet* (University of North Carolina, USA)

Core Members

  • Brad Boyle* (University of Arizona, USA)
  • Miquel De Cáceres* (Centre Tecnològic Forestal de Catalunya, Spain)
  • Jerry Cooper (Landcare Research Ltd, NZ)
  • Stephan Hennekens (Alterra, NL)
  • Matthew Jones (NCEAS, UC Santa Barbara, USA)
  • Steve Kelling (Cornell University, USA)
  • Martin Kleikamp* (Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany)
  • Michael Lee (University of North Carolina, USA)
  • Susan Wiser* (Landcare Research Ltd, NZ)

Goals, Outputs, and Outcomes

This Task Group plans to complete development of an international exchange standard for plot-based vegetation data that is accepted by the broader vegetation science community and endorsed by the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) and TDWG. Our goal is to design a TDWG standard for vegetation plot data that is maximally compatible with existing standards and is useful for community-based co-occurrence sampling for many types of organisms (e.g., inter-tidal zone plots, sub-tidal benthic plots and transects).

Following the two workshops and several subsequent revisions, the schema will be made available for review on this site and will also be presented at the IAVS annual meeting June 2009. If necessary, additional revisions will be undertaken in time to present progress to the OSR groups workshop during the TDWG annual meeting 2009.


Vegetation scientists from 22 countries attended the first International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) Ecoinformatics Working Group meeting in 2003, and unanimously endorsed the creation of an international exchange standard. The Governing Council of IAVS has invited TDWG to work with interested colleagues to develop a standard for approval and endorsement by IAVS.

Two workshops were held to discuss and develop a plot-based vegetation data exchange schema (April 2007, June 2008, at National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, NC). The first workshop of 12 participants from 6 countries formulated a common set of goals, concepts, and terminology for plot-based vegetation data. The second workshop was held with a smaller group, who developed this ontology into a draft XML schema representation for consideration by the broader community. This draft was presented at the OSR Interest group’s meeting at the annual TDWG meeting in Perth October 2008 and also at a workshop at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) held in December 2008: “Developing an integrated botanical information network to investigate the ecological impacts of global climate change on plant biodiversity”. An outcome from this workshop will be to develop proposals for the iPlant collaborative (NSF funded Plant Science Cyberinfrastructure Collaborative program - PSCIC). At this meeting the draft schema was endorsed as a candidate, subject to modifications and acceptance as a TDWG standard, for use as the group’s common vegetation data exchange standard.

Becoming Involved

A draft schema has been through several iterations and is now reasonably stable. However, there are many improvements that could be made to the structure, contents, and documentation, and there is room for greater reuse and alignment of other ontologies with this draft. We welcome feedback through the TDWG Wiki and will also be eliciting comment from various active vegetation research groups on any and all aspects of the schema. We are particularly interested in ensuring that the schema sufficiently covers end-user needs, and in determining whether there are major logistical problems in fitting specific vegetation types to the data structure as defined by the schema. Contact any key member (* above) for details.

To view the current version of the draft go to the downloads section below and or contribute on the DiscussionPage.

If you are new to wikis, learn how to use it in ThreeEasySteps. This wiki is open to anyone interested in the topic, but you must be a registered user to edit pages and add content. Register at the TWikiRegistration page.


The development of this data exchange schema would not have been possible without the support of the following funding bodies:

  • Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, New Zealand ( through the NVS Intermediate Outcome - C09X0502? (Ecosystem resilience OBI).

  • ARC-NZ network for Vegetation Function (, supported by Australian Research Council and Landcare Research NZ.

  • International Technical Input Programme (ITIP), Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, New Zealand.


* Update January 2009

Download Schema

Proposed Versions

Current Versions

  • Diagram: bmp file format posted 2009-02-10

Old Versions

* VegX Schema 1.4.2: zip file format posted 2009-02-10

* VegX schema html documentation view 1.4.2 : zip file format posted 2009-02-10

Download Veg-X Export Tools

* VegX Export Tool A prototype tool for mapping and exporting vegetation data into the Veg-X schema. Currently supports Excel and MS Access and write to a subset of the full Veg-X schema. Demonstrates how a simple translation into VegX? can work. Note only operates on VegX? Schema 1.5.1.

* Example of an export method for VegX to the NZ NVS databank: word file format posted 2010-05-21

Vegetation Web Utilities

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Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
docdoc Dear_Members_of_the_Vegetation_schema_working_group.doc manage 27.0 K 11 Feb 2009 - 00:27 NickSpencer Progress update January 2009
docdoc Using_VegX_with_NZ_NVS_-_an_example_export.doc manage 66.0 K 22 May 2010 - 09:45 NickSpencer Example export method for VegX? to the NZ NVS databank
docdoc Veg-X_candidate_1.5.2_change_description.doc manage 83.0 K 22 May 2010 - 09:32 NickSpencer Documentation Veg-X candidate 1.5.2 change description
docdoc Veg-X_candidate_1.5.3_change_description.doc manage 44.0 K 18 Jan 2012 - 03:27 NickSpencer description of recent proposed changes to the VegX? Schema
zipzip manage 885.2 K 08 Dec 2009 - 21:35 NickSpencer A prototype tool for mapping and exporting vegetation data to the Veg-X schema. Currently supports Excel and MS Access.
docdoc VegX_Names_Architecture.doc manage 123.5 K 04 Mar 2009 - 21:16 NickSpencer Descriptions of simplified names structures
zipzip manage 169.5 K 04 Mar 2009 - 21:16 NickSpencer XSD VegX? schema
zipzip manage 68.6 K 22 May 2010 - 09:24 NickSpencer Candidate release of version 1.5.2
zipzip manage 70.8 K 18 Jan 2012 - 03:26 NickSpencer zip file of recent proposed changes to the VegX? Schema
zipzip manage 2426.0 K 04 Mar 2009 - 21:15 NickSpencer html document view of VegX? schema
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