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MastWeb 2.0: Mobile friendliness and interactive analysis tool to assess and visualize annual tree fecundity levels

 

Abstract

Understanding natural regeneration in forests is key to predicting their reaction to environmental change and proactively managing them. Increased tree fecundity as an element of regeneration varies between years (seed masting). The platform mastweb.wsl.ch created by an internal project (2014-16) offers to report tree fecundity observations. This project aims at improving the mastweb plat with two main innovations: (1) by providing an analysis tool visualising data of past years (since 1991) in customized statistics and downloadable reports, and b) by improving mobile-friendliness by making the platform usable on smartphones. The two innovation steps should motivate citizens (foresters, nature experts, lay persons) to contribute their observations to the database.

 

Reworking of the website

As part of this project the webportal of mastweb.ch gets reworked. The existing documentation on mast observation for the most important Swiss tree species gets complemented and streamlined instruction and protocols for seed mast estimation in the field are published. These standard protocols and their documentation are a key element for diverse follow-up projects such as PhenoMast.

In addition, the website will be extended by a new section containing annual reports on tree fecundity levels in Switzerland. These annual reports will be compiled by experts of the WSL and made publically available through the mastweb.ch portal. These reports should build the basis for interested researchers or the public to get an overview on seed production of the main tree species within the Swiss forests and therefore a great starting point for more detailed own analysis within our new webtool. These annual summaries on seed production will also be integrate in a number of other WSL products and annual reports.

The annual reports on tree fecundity levels with focus on the four major tree taxas within Swiss forests: Norway spruce, Silver fir, European beech and oaks (containing three hybridizing species). The reports are based on the annual field observations and use machine learning techniques to interpolate across space (latitude, longitude) and elevation to provide continuous maps of estimated tree fecundity. 

 

Recording seed mast observation

A new front and backend will be developed to facilitate the reporting of observations in the field as well as the import of existing data ensuring high data quality standards. The frontend will be available as web, Android and iPhone application and provide a unified and simple graphical user interface to record mast observations directly in the field. The applications will allow direct importation of the geographic location of the user by GPS and therefore facilitate data entry by reducing the amount of information required by the user.

 

Data visualisation and evaluation

The project aims to develope a dashboard application that allows quick and simple visualisation of data based on the users need (e.g. specific species, years, regions). In addition to the display of the available data and the projected tree fecundity levels the dashboard will also allow for simple analysis of time series and elevation trends across the whole of Switzerland or specific regions. All the displayed data can be exported into simple but citable reports.