Statistical assessment on a combined analysis of GRYN-ROMN-UCBN upland vegetation vital signs

Natural Resource Report NPS/UCBN/NRR—2014/855
National Park Service
By:  and 



As of 2013, Rocky Mountain and Upper Columbia Basin Inventory and Monitoring Networks have multiple years of vegetation data and Greater Yellowstone Network has three years of vegetation data and monitoring is ongoing in all three networks. Our primary objective is to assess whether a combined analysis of these data aimed at exploring correlations with climate and weather data is feasible. We summarize the core survey design elements across protocols and point out the major statistical challenges for a combined analysis at present. The dissimilarity in response designs between ROMN and UCBN-GRYN network protocols presents a statistical challenge that has not been resolved yet. However, the UCBN and GRYN data are compatible as they implement a similar response design; therefore, a combined analysis is feasible and will be pursued in future. When data collected by different networks are combined, the survey design describing the merged dataset is (likely) a complex survey design. A complex survey design is the result of combining datasets from different sampling designs. A complex survey design is characterized by unequal probability sampling, varying stratification, and clustering (see Lohr 2010 Chapter 7 for general overview). Statistical analysis of complex survey data requires modifications to standard methods, one of which is to include survey design weights within a statistical model. We focus on this issue for a combined analysis of upland vegetation from these networks, leaving other topics for future research. We conduct a simulation study on the possible effects of equal versus unequal probability selection of points on parameter estimates of temporal trend using available packages within the R statistical computing package. We find that, as written, using lmer or lm for trend detection in a continuous response and clm and clmm for visually estimated cover classes with “raw” GRTS design weights specified for the weight argument leads to substantially different results and/or computational instability. However, when only fixed effects are of interest, the survey package (svyglm and svyolr) may be suitable for a model-assisted analysis for trend. We provide possible directions for future research into combined analysis for ordinal and continuous vital sign indictors.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Statistical assessment on a combined analysis of GRYN-ROMN-UCBN upland vegetation vital signs
Series title Natural Resource Report
Series number NPS/UCBN/NRR—2014/855
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher National Park Service
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description vii., 41 p.
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