Potentials and pitfalls of integrating data from diverse sources: Lessons from a historical database for Great Lakes stream fishes
analysis, assemblage, ASSEMBLAGES, barriers, biological, biological data, CHALLENGES, control, DAM, dams, development, Fish, Fisheries, FISHES, Great Lakes, GREAT-LAKES, LAKE, Lakes, lamprey, LESSONS, low head dams, petromyzon, Petromyzon marinus, physical, scale, scales, SEA, sea lamprey, spatial, stream, STREAM FISHES, variability
Journal or Book Title
There is considerable enthusiasm for, and value in, the development and analysis of large databases that integrate physical and biological data from diverse sources and over broad spatial, temporal, and taxonomic scales. There also are special challenges. We introduce the Biological Impacts of Low-head Dams (BILD) historical database, developed for assessing the impacts of small barriers used in the control of parasitic sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) on assemblages of stream fishes throughout the Great Lakes drainage basin. We also highlight challenges encountered in developing the database. Considerable effort and care were required while designing and analyzing the database because of variability in the information the contributing agencies had collected, as well as how the information had been collected, organized and stored. Furthermore, only a small portion of the data is suitable for addressing the impacts of small barriers on stream fish assemblages. We therefore provide general recommendations for developing databases integrating data from diverse sources and provide cautions about expectations for them. Our overview is intended to assist fisheries scientists, managers, and funding agencies asked either to develop an historical database, or to provide data or funding for one.