[Mastwatch] Casual observations at Gunung Palung

Serge Wich sergewich1 at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 12 12:05:19 PDT 2011

Dear Cam et al,

Thank you for the update on the history of mastwatch. Yoour points about the
bias in the dataset are of course very true and we should certainly use
caution when using these observations. But as you say it would be
interesting to have them in a database. If we do that we can perhaps link it
to published literature and perhaps combine them in a useful way. Not sure
yet how, but it might be feasible. I could put things in a GIS layer if all
people that have contributed data would simply let me know the coordinates
of the area where they made the observations, the month and year and whether
it was flowering or fruiting. This would be less detailed than the database
form, but at least contain some info that might be useful. If people would
think they would be able to do this I can send out an excel file for this
and then later on send some maps with the data on it per year or something.
Then we can see if there is something in it for a short publication.

At the same time we could add a column to the excel worksheet where people
can add whether they are interested to receive the same datasheet every 3-4
months and then I can send it around every 3-4 months to those people. This
would be a relatively small effort since the only thing one would have to do
is copy down the line of the site and change the month and one per year the
year and tick a box of whether there is masting flower or fruiting or not.

We can add a comments column as well for people to add whatever extra info
they have on genera and species that are masting. If data come in every 3-4
months I can make a new map and send it out to everyone so people get a nice
update on where mast is and where there is no mast. If people like this idea
please let me know. Once we have a few years of data we can see if we can
make a more solid publication out of this in addition to perhaps a short
report to warm people up for the project.

Let me know what you think.

Best wishes,


-----Original Message-----
From: Cam Webb [mailto:cwebb at oeb.harvard.edu] 
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 9:30 AM
To: Serge Wich; mastwatch at lists.phylodiversity.net
Subject: Re: [Mastwatch] Casual observations at Gunung Palung

Dear Serge, All,

> I also have a question. With all the mast info from casual observations 
> and phenology datasets I was wondering whether there is a sense in 
> putting all of this in a database that is or is not spatially explicit 
> and perhaps do some analyses on it. It would still be nice to understand 
> more about masting and where it occurs and how synchronous it is over 
> larger areas or what time-shifts are between areas. I have no idea how 
> much data there are, but it might be something to try to do together?

To develop a common source of spatially explicit masting information was 
the reason we started mastwatch in ca. 2002.  Mastwatch was originally a 
community editable database of observations (see below for original site:



).  A few observations were contributed, including a large dump of data 
from Shinya Numata's 2003 AJB paper, but mastwatch as a database wasn't a 
great solution for social reasons (not much fun to participate in!).  In 
2007, I switched it to this mailing list, and we have now accumulated a 
good set of observations over the past four and a half years (see


for the (public) list archives.  An email is easier to contribute than 
formatted data, and more fun to read, but it is less likely that a free 
text email will contain complete information for an analysis.  The other 
obvious problem with using these data for analysis is that the data points 
are very spatially skewed to sites where people have heard of this 
project, and have some incentive to contribute observations.  A much 
better strategy for the future would be to identify 15-20 sites where 
there are people we know who are on email and are in the forest on a 
regular basis, and who would respond to a request for masting observations 
every 3-4 months. Anyone interested/have time to pursue this?

All this said, it would be great if someone wanted to go back through the 
archives and wrangle the observations into a tabular format. Even if the 
patterns emerging were not that satisfying, someone could still write up a 
short paper with the data we do have simply to publicize the project and 
recruit more observers.

Any other ideas on good ways to move forward with this project, other
than in its current form, which I hope will continue for years more.  And 
thanks to everyone for sharing their masting news.  I for one really enjoy 
reading these live `forest news bulletins.'

Best wishes from West Kalimantan,


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