Big Data and Ecosystem Research Programmes

David George Raffaelli*, James M. Bullock, Steve Cinderby, Isabelle Durance, Bridget Emmett, Jim Harris, Kevin Hicks, Tom H. Oliver, Dave Paterson, Piran C L White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The size and complexity of data sets generated within ecosystem-level programmes merits their capture, curation, storage and analysis, synthesis and visualisation using Big Data approaches. This review looks at previous attempts to organise and analyse such data through the International Biological Programme and draws on the mistakes made and the lessons learned for effective Big Data approaches to current Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) ecosystem-level programmes, using Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) and Environmental Virtual Observatory Pilot (EVOp) as exemplars. The challenges raised by such data are identified, explored and suggestions are made for the two major issues of extending analyses across different spatio-temporal scales and for the effective integration of quantitative and qualitative data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-77
Number of pages37
JournalAdvances in Ecological Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Complexity
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Platforms
  • Scale
  • Visualisation

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