sPlot Database

The sPlot database is the first vegetation-plot database with global coverage and standardised plant nomenclature and header data. It is managed by Stephan Hennekens with a prototype of the software TURBOVEG 3. According to the sPlot Rules, the use of the sPlot data is restricted to author teams led by an sPlot Consortium member.

sPlot cooperates closely with the global trait database TRY. Accordingly, trait data newly gathered during the assembly of the sPlot database will be included in and handled by TRY. sPlot releases are connected to a nomenclatural matched and gap-filled version of TRY 5.0. Since the cleaning and standardisation of the sPlot data and the matching with TRY is a time consuming process as well as because we want to achieve best possible repeatability and comparability of results of sPlot-based studies, we intend to release sPlot in fixed versions approximately every 18 months.


sPlot and its contributing databases

sPlot hosts and harmonizes vegetation-plot databases contributed by sPlot Consortium members. These are typically large national or even supranational databases. Smaller local or regional databases should normally first join up to a larger regional database before joining sPlot. The data import with standardisation of header data and species nomenclature is done semi-automatically with wrappers/pipelines that can be used to re-import data in the future when the source database has been augmented or otherwise improved. sPlot is not intended to maintain and update local databases, which remains responsibility of database custodians. Where possible, sPlot seeks the cooperation of data aggregators at subcontinental and continental level, such as the European Vegetation Archive (EVA) and the Tropical African Vegetation Archive (TAVA).

Registering to the Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD), with which sPlot cooperates closely, is warmly recommended before contributing a database to sPlot. With the registration in GIVD, databases receive a unique identifier that allows citing a database properly and attributing credit to it. sPlot will use GIVD to handle the metadata at the database level rather than duplicating the same structure in the sPlot database.

We are still particularly seeking vegetation plots from Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa. Further we have a high interest in plot data from the tropics and subtropics where herbaceous plants in addition to the trees have been recorded. If you have such data and wish to become a member of the sPlot Consortium, see here for conditions. Additions of invited databases and updates of current member databases will be conducted when a new sPlot release is due, i.e. with approximately 18-month intervals.


sPlot releases

sPlot 3.0, release on August 2020, with 1,978,686 plots (1,976,235 georeferenced with varying precision) from 161 databases, from 140 countries and seven continents. For additional info, see Newsletter 9.

sPlot 2.1, release on October 2016, with 1,121,244 plots (all geo-referenced with varying precision) from 110 databases, 130 countries and all seven continents. This is an improved version of sPlot 2.0. For a full description see Bruelheide et al. 2019 - JVS.

sPlot 2.0 (full version), release 0n 21 January 2016: 1,115,705 plots (all geo-referenced with varying precision) from 110 databases, 130 countries and all seven continents, with intersection to the gap-imputed trait data of TRY 3.0. For further details see Newsletter 5.

sPlot 1.0 (full version for test purposes), 20 November 2014: 840,000 plots (700,000 geo-referenced) with intersection to the trait data of TRY 2.0.

sPlot 0.9 (prototype), 19 August 2014: more than 550,000 vegetation plots from 56 databases and 52 countries.

sPlot 0.8


sPlot content


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