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EcoPar: Parameters and Methods for Ecosystem Research & Monitoring

The expert-knowledge based data base providing a comprehensive list of parameters and related methods for different kinds of ecosystems

EcoPar provides a comprehensive collection of indicators, parameters and corresponding methods for ecosystem monitoring and research. It has been started within the Life+ project EnvEurope (2010-13) and was further developed within the Horizon 2020 project eLTER (2015-19). It is intended to serve as a (decision) tool for parameter selection for the research infrastructure eLTER ESFRI starting in 2019.

EcoPar is aiming at harmonization of measurements especially in Long Term Ecosystem Research (LTER). However, it provides parameter recommendations for any kind of ecosystem research.

EcoPar is based on the conceptual framework of Ecosystem Integrity (for explanation see elements of Ecosystem Integrity ). This framework enables the assignment of parameters to structures and processes of ecosystems. The EcoPar database covers terrestrial, river, lake and marine ecosystems.

To improve the level of detail for biotic parameters, the concept of Essential Biodiversity Variables EBV's of Geo BON has been integrated in EcoPar and assigned to Ecosystem Integrity elements. EBV's are described as EBV classes and EBV candidates. EBV classes are included as a separate column in EcoPar, whereas the EBV candidates were collated in the parameter column, although they are described not detailed enough to serve as measurables like the other EcoPar parameters which are characterized by a specific method. Note that due to this mismatch EBV's in EcoPar are implemented for terrestrial ecosystems only! 

To be compliant with DEIMS-SDR (Dynamic Ecological Information Management System - Site and dataset registry), parameter names are linked to the corresponding terms of the EnvThes (Environmental Thesaurus) vocabulary. Owing to the above mentioned level of development in EBV's, the links of EBV candidates to EnvThes could not be given. EnvThes is providing a unified semantic backbone for the provision of data. It is used to provide keywords in metadata as well as to annotate variable names.

EcoPar is built on community effort and is designed to be interactively changed and completed. You are invited to comment and add information according to your expertise in the COMMENT fields of the table below (pdf files of missing references are welcome by email to Mark Frenzel ).

In order to choose and focus on the things of interest, use the Selection and Search functions. Selections are available as check boxes or pull down options for:

I. Selection of Ecosystems and Ecological Integrity components

  • Ecosystems (terrestrial, rivers, lakes, marine)
  • Ecosystem Structures & Processes
  • Diversity & Budgets (related to energy, water, matter)
  • Basic Ecological Integrity Indicators
  • all parameters (consisting of an object and a measured property)

To understand the hierarchy and arrangement of items of I. take a look at the table and the figure illustrating the Ecosystem Integrity concept. Note that selections at higher hierarchy levels affect the lower levels.

II. Selection of table columns

For reasons of space-saving only few columns are listed in the default view. You can simply extend the information by ticking the boxes of columns you are interested in.

Ranking of parameters: the last four columns (ecological importance, sensibility to changes, measurement effort, instrumentation level) represent the result of a survey among the international scientific community asking for evaluation of each parameter according to specific criteria. Values give the mean of the rankings of each parameter (1-none, 2-small, 3-medium, 4-high). In "()" the number of votes is indicated.

III. Search for terms and phrases

Search allows AND / OR connections of terms by adding new search fields. The retrieved terms are highlighted in yellow.

Pressing the Submit query button processes all queries at once. The columns of the resulting table can be sorted alphabetically by the up and down triangles. The table columns dealing with References provide links to websites and PDF files of cited documents as far as available. At the bottom of the page two buttons allow an export of the query results as Excel table (all pages or just current page). Note that you get the complete database when no selection is active.
The detailed PDF document about the conceptual framework and the approach taken for gathering EcoPar data is available at EnvEurope - Products (Manual of harmonized methods for environmental indicators across different ecosystems).


The complete database or the selected view (upper limit: 100 rows) can be downloaded as Excel table. This allows you to e.g. use Excel functions for further processing of the data.

Contact: Mark Frenzel

Contact: Mark Frenzel