News (blog)

Accessing the pollen counts

For any analysis using the EPD, it’s likely you will want to access the pollen counts, either to plot a diagram or so that they can be included in some larger, macro-ecological study. The goal of this post is to create an object for a single pollen record, containing counts, variable names and taxa group names, and sample depths for a site, Dallican Water, published by Bennett et al. (1997). The entity number for this site is 196.

The R object (what I am calling the count object) we will create then be used in subsequent analyses/ plotting.

The EPD is structured in such a way that the pollen counts are stored in the p_counts table (see dependencies here). In a previous post we already created an R version of the database, including this table and others, called myEPD. Therefore, we can access the p_vars table from this version of the database using the code below. Inspecting the structure in R we can see that the p_vars table is a thin version with 4 columns: Entity number in the first (the crucial code which many tables related to the pollen counts together); sample code in the second (relating to the sample code in the p_depth table); a variable code in the third (relating to the pollen type, whose code is stored in the p_vars table); and then the actual counts for each variable.

Below we load our R version of the EPD, extract the p_count table and inspect it. Then we extract only the rows that contain counds for Dallican Water (Entity Number = 196)

load('~/Documents/EPDr/epdWorkshop_dir/myEPD.RData')
p_counts <- myEPD[["p_counts"]]
head(p_counts)
##   e_ sample_ var_ count
## 1  1       1   32    15
## 2  1       1   66     1
## 3  1       1  137     1
## 4  1       1  141     7
## 5  1       1  146     2
## 6  1       1  185     3
# Access the Dallican Water (Bennett 1997) dataset using the correct entity number
eNum <- 196
counts.thin <- p_counts[p_counts$e_== eNum,]

One thing to note is that the data are not structured like a typical sample x species matrix. We can use the reshape2 package to convert the pvars table into the more common sample x species matrix (useful for, e.g. plotting pollen diagrams, conducting ordinations).

smSp <- reshape2::dcast(counts.thin, sample_ ~ var_, value.var = "count")

# convert NAs (zero counts) to numeric Zero
smSp[is.na(smSp)] <- 0
# get the sample numbers and then remove this column
sample_ <- smSp[, 1]
smSp <- smSp[,-1]

# rename the rows as the sample numbers
row.names(smSp) <- sample_

At the moment the variable names (e.g. pollen types) are also just a sample code. You have to cross reference these using the p_vars table to access them. We can also access the taxa group IDs for the different variables (e.g. Trees/ Shrubs, Herbs, Exotics, from the p_group table), and the sample depths (from the p_sample table). This is done below:

p_vars <- myEPD[["p_vars"]]
p_group <- myEPD[["p_group"]]
p_sample <- myEPD[["p_sample"]]

# Get the variable names
vars <- colnames(smSp)
spWant <- match(vars, p_vars$var_)
colnames(smSp) <- p_vars$varname[spWant]
taxa.names <- colnames(smSp)

# Get the groups as well
idWant <- match(vars, p_group$var)
taxa.groupid <- p_group$groupid[idWant] 
    
# Get the depths
p_sampleWant <- p_sample[p_sample$e_ == eNum,]
depths <- p_sampleWant[,c("sample_", "depthcm")]
row.names(depths) <- depths$sample_

Finally, we want store all of this as one object that can be used in subsequent analysis. Since the different R objects we have created are of different dimensions, it is useful to use a list. So we create an object called counts, with all the relevant R objects stored as individual items in it.

This object now stores all the relevant pollen count information, including entity number, counts, depths, and variable names and types.

# make the object
    counts <- list(core_number = eNum,
                taxa_names = taxa.names,
                pvarCode = vars,
                taxa_groupid = taxa.groupid,
                sample_ = sample_,
                counts = smSp,
                depths = depths
            )

If doing multiple analyses, we can easily turn all this into a function that enables us to get the pollen counts from any site with a known entity number. The following function getCountInfo does this. Note that I added an extra bit of code to return NA if no pollen counts are found for that site.

getCountInfo <- function(eNum, EPDfile = myEPD){
  # eNum = e_ number in EPD
    # EPDfile = an R object containing the EPD files
    require("reshape2")
    
    # define the tables that you need to use
    p_counts <- EPDfile[["p_counts"]]
    p_vars <- EPDfile[["p_vars"]]
    p_group <- EPDfile[["p_group"]]
    p_sample <- myEPD[["p_sample"]]

    # Get the counts you want
    counts.thin <- p_counts[p_counts$e_== eNum,]
    if (nrow(counts.thin) == 0) {
       counts <- list(core_number = eNum,
                taxa_names = NA,
                taxa_groupid = NA,
                sample_ = NA,
                counts = NA,
                depths = NA
            )
    return(counts)
    }

    # Needs to be reshaped into a sample by species matrix 
    smSp <- dcast(counts.thin, sample_ ~ var_, value.var = "count")
    smSp[is.na(smSp)] <- 0
    sample_ <- smSp[, 1]
    smSp <- smSp[,-1]
    row.names(smSp) <- sample_
    
    # Get the taxa names for the full, unadjusted dataset
    vars <- colnames(smSp)
    spWant <- match(vars, p_vars$var_)
    colnames(smSp) <- p_vars$varname[spWant]
    taxa.names <- colnames(smSp)
    
    # Get the groups as well
    idWant <- match(vars, p_group$var)
    taxa.groupid <- p_group$groupid[idWant] 
    
    # Get the depths
    p_sampleWant <- p_sample[p_sample$e_ == eNum,]
    depths <- p_sampleWant[,c("sample_", "depthcm")]
    row.names(depths) <- depths$sample_
    
    # make the object
    counts <- list(core_number = eNum,
                taxa_names = taxa.names,
                pvarCode = vars,
                taxa_groupid = taxa.groupid,
                sample_ = sample_,
                counts = smSp,
                depths = depths
            )
    return(counts)
}

This can be run using the following one line of code to extract the data for Dallican Water.

dallican <- getCountInfo(eNum = 196, EPDfile = myEPD)
## Loading required package: reshape2
str(dallican, max.level = 1)
## List of 7
##  $ core_number : num 196
##  $ taxa_names  : chr [1:85] "Achillea-type" "Alnus" "Artemisia" "Betula" ...
##  $ pvarCode    : chr [1:85] "8" "32" "66" "95" ...
##  $ taxa_groupid: chr [1:85] "HERB" "TRSH" "HERB" "TRSH" ...
##  $ sample_     : int [1:80] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ...
##  $ counts      :'data.frame':    80 obs. of  85 variables:
##  $ depths      :'data.frame':    80 obs. of  2 variables:

In the next post we will see how to align the published age models from Giesecke et al. (2014) with the sample depths in the pollen count object we just created here.

Accessing the EPD from R

Until the EPD migrates to Neotoma, the most up-to-date version of the EPD is stored on the EPD website here. When this is complete then the Neotoma R package can be used to access much of the information. Until then, it is best to use the version stored on the EPD website.

At this web address, there are three different formats: Paradox, Microsoft Access and Postgres. I don’t know much about Paradox, and had trouble accessing the Microsoft Access version from my Mac (I heard other people have problems with Windows machines as well), so the one solution is to use the Postgres version. Here you can set up the EPD as a Postgres server on your own computer. Diego Nieto Lugilde, the writer of the EPD_R package, has some advice on how to get this work for Windows machines here. I have some notes on how to do the same thing for a Mac.

This can still be a challenge for some people, however, who might not have the correct access rights to their computer. In repsonse to this, Richard Telford published a slightly different solution on his blog which involves setting up an SQLite database. It involves downloading the MS Access file and converting it to an SQLlite file using mdbtools. You will have to instll mdbtools on the command line on your computer first, then follow the code he used on his blog here.

Once this is complete, it is possible to access the database as follows. In the code below, for example, I am connecting to the version of the database running as a server on my computer, then accessing the relevant tables required. Incidentally, this connection will also be used if you are using Diego’s EPD R package.

driver <- "PostgreSQL"
database <- "epd"
host = "localhost"
user = "epd"
password = "epdpassword"

con <- RPostgreSQL::dbConnect(driver, dbname = database, 
        host = host, user = user, password = password)
dbListTables(con)

# lists all the tables in the EPD
DBI::dbListTables(con)

# Obtains a number of tables I have found useful as R objects
pSample <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "p_sample")
pCounts <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "p_counts")
pGroup <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "p_group")
siteLoc <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "siteloc")
entity <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "entity")
p_entity <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "p_entity")
groups <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "groups")
workers <-DBI::dbReadTable(con, "workers") 
publ <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "publ")
publent <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "publent")
pVars <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "p_vars")
siteInfo <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "siteinfo")
siteDesc <- DBI::dbReadTable(con, "sitedesc")

Since some of these DBI connections are quite slow, I have found it most efficient to store these tables as my own .RData file of the database called myEPD. I save this file on my computer here and this is what will be used in all subsequent posts.

# Combines these tables into the myEPD object
myEPD <- list(p_sample= pSample, 
                p_vars = pVars, 
                p_counts = pCounts,
                p_group = pGroup,
                siteloc = siteLoc,
                entity = entity,
                p_entity = p_entity,
                groups = groups,
                workers = workers,
                publ = publ,
                publent = publent,
                siteinfo = siteInfo,
                sitedesc = siteDesc
                )

# Save the object on your directory somewhere
save(myEPD,file= "myEPD.RData")

For ease, I’m currently trying to arrange to put this version online so that anyone can bypass these steps and go straight to accessing the database. There will be a number of blog posts following this showing how to use different parts of the EPD using R. If you are interested in contributing your own post, or would like advice on how to perform a particular function, then send an email to here and one member of the team will try to solve the issue (given available time constraints).

In the meantime, if you would like the RData version of the EPD now then post a message below.

Porting EPD into Neotoma, first steps…

News from the workshop (3-7/11/2017) in Göttingen, Germany

Background/History: The EPD was designed in the time before email and WWW as a Paradox database that would have a master copy on one particular computer with one person able to make changes to the database and distribute copies of it. The old system uses DOS programs to upload sites and the Paradox format itself is outdated. Discussions on how to continue with the database system started after the open meeting in 2007. Continue reading “Porting EPD into Neotoma, first steps…”

Past global change and Mediterranean biodiversity

 

A Symposium in memory of Armand Pons (25/01/2013, Marseille, France)

Armand Pons, born in 1931, died this year in January 2012. This meeting is organised to celebrate a major pioneer of modern Palynology and Palaeoecology in France and to make a point on the state of the art in the fields he started to explore 50 years ago. Find and download the program at  symposium_armand_pons_2013.pdf 

Continue reading “Past global change and Mediterranean biodiversity”

Meetings & workshops 2008 – 2013