Status of the EPD (Rachid Cheddadi)
EPD in Financial Crisis (Richard Bradshaw)
Division of Responsibilities (Malgorzata Latalowa & Spassimir Tonkov)
French-Polish Initiative (Malgorzata Latalowa & Rachid Cheddadi)
Calibration of Radio-carbon Dates (Bas van Geel)
During a visit by John Keltner (manager of the pollen data at the WDC, Boulder, Colorado) to the EPD, we discovered that the field storing the publication references in the database (table PUBL) was corrupted and several bibliographic references did not correspond to the right authors of the study. There were also some mixed references entries. We have worked on this problem and most of the cross-references have now been corrected. However, we would like to take the opportunity of this newsletter to ask you to let the EPD database mananger know about any mistake you may find.
During this past year we have also set up a new EPD web page that provides useful information about how to obtain data, how to contribute data, what is the administrative structure and its technical organisation. The new EPD web page also provides access to the very useful visualisation tool WebMapper.
The main new concept in handling new data contributed to the EPD is the public FTP site that is made available to contributors for submitting their data. Any contributor can put his/her data and metadata in any format on the FTP site and then send a message to the EPD database manager to let him know that new data has been contributed to the EPD. Such an FTP site aims at avoiding delay between data contribution and its use. Previously, in order to have newly contributed data properly included in the EPD, the metadata had to be collected, checked and properly organised. The taxonomy also has to be checked and an age/depth model applied. These tasks may not be accomplished until several weeks/months after data submission as there are no funds available for such tasks. Without the FTP directory any data contributed to the EPD may not be immediately available on the Internet. The FTP site is aims to avoid the situation whereby newly contributed data remain at the database center without being available in the public domain. The EPD protocol allows contributors to submit their data in a restricted form. These data should not be put in the FTP directory but rather sent to the database centre. For these restricted data, printable documents are also available for submitting the metadata.
Details concerning how to access data archived in the EPD are also provided on the new EPD web page and the DB manual can also be downloaded. Besides, the handy WebMapper tool and the search engine an SQL tool has been made available. This new tool is aimed at querying the database remotely. We are aware that the SQL tool can be used only by colleagues who have some knowledge of the SQL language but such a tool widens the possibilities of using the database on a personnal PC without downloading it entirely and also allows one to access the most up-to-date version of the EPD.
There is some possibility of obtaining funding via the EU 5th Framework programme programme under the section for the ‘Support of research infrastructures’. Several other databases have recently received support under this programme and the EPD has not previously applied to this section. The next closing date for applications is in October 2001. It was proposed that the compilation of surface samples and their role in calibrating fossil data regarding land-use change and biodiversity dynamics might be an appropriate focus for such an application. The EPD chairman agreed to prepare an application and to involve as many EPD AB and EC members and their research institutes as possible.
A proposal for a multi-proxy database, MUPPETS, in which the EPD would be represented, will also be made under the ‘Support for research infrastructures’ section of the EU 5th Framework Programme. This proposal, which is already underway, was welcomed as a positive development that could bring a qualified post-doc to the EPD for the duration of the planned project.
In the worst-case scenario (failure of all EU applications etc.), if any other country is able to provide personnel and resources the eventual re-location of the EPD should not be ruled out.
Three types of data maps are envisaged: isochrones (with lines of equal age), isopolls (with lines of equal pollen percentages), proportional dots (the size of the dots is proportional to the pollen percentages). In addition to these three types of species mapping, the intention is to produce vegetation maps with groupings of taxa following a concept such as that of "plant functional types".
The two projects will last three years and will be realised in close co-operation. In France 22 scientists are involved and in Poland 24 are taking part in the project. Such an approach is expected to give highly accurate information since a greater number of local experts are involved and, therefore, numerous points can be better checked for data mapping. In fact, local experts will help by substantially improving the spatial resolution on the maps through their own data contribution. This co-operation will also enhance the quality control of the data and will help in applying better age/depth models, since each record will be controlled by the author of the data. Several new pollen records collected within the framework of these two projects will be archived in the EPD and released when the projects end.
Both teams will discuss progress together and try to harmonise such problems as, for example: the use of age/depth models, the selection of pollen spectra, methods of interpolation in the lack of appropriate data, determination of the pollen sum and the software. The leaders aim to set up a protocol, based on their similar approaches, and distribute it to other colleagues in Europe. The hope of the co-ordinators of these two projects is that other countries will follow their initiatives and that the maps produced in each European country can eventually be combined to produce a continental view of the dynamics of migration of the most important taxa.
Aitken, M.J., 1990. Science-based dating in archaeology. London, Longman, 274 p.
Bowman, S., 1990 Radiocarbon dating. Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 64 p.
Bronk Ramsey, C. n.d./1998 Radiocarbon Calibration. Radiocarbon WEB-info. OxCal Program [WWW document]. (URL)
Stuiver, M. and Reimer, P., 1998. CALIB Version 4.0 [Computer Program] (URL)
Taylor, R.E., 1987. Radiocarbon dating: an archaeological perspective. Orlando, Academic Press, 212 p.
van der Plicht, J., 1998. The Groningen Calibration Program Version CAL25 [Computer program]
The year shown in brackets indicates the year when the position occupied by the person in question comes up for election. Because the EPD has no funds of its own, the financing of an annual meeting that gathers the whole EC and AB together to follow EPD progress and plan for the future is becoming increasingly difficult. Prior to the election of new members the possibility of reducing the number of EPD AB members was discussed. It has frequently been underlined that the adequate representation in the AB of the different geographical regions of Europe and different areas of expertise is of special importance. As a result, it was decided that the number of AB members should remains the same as it is at present.
If you are interested in serving on the Advisory Board or Executive Committee please contact the chairperson Sheila Hicks.
10 October 2002