Current Activities/ Revision updates here
Requirements for Submission
Original submission.Provide information describing the extentto which data or text in the proposal have been used in other works that are published, in press, submitted, or soon to be submitted elsewhere.
DataPolicy. Authors are expected to make the plot data underlying proposal available through some public database, preferably VegBank.
Include computer code. Authors must provide any novel computer code for models, simulations, or statistical analyses.
Authorprofiles. Authors are responsible for modifying their profile to keep the editors and staff informed of changes in their contact information. The corresponding author will be notified of receipt of the manuscript. Do not add the email address of a co-author as a secondary email address.
English. Authors whose native language is not English are encouraged to enlist the aid of a native English-speaking colleague to go over the proposal for correct usage and clarity prior to submission.
Formatting Your Proposal: Minimum Formatting Requirements
Consult recent issues for examples of NVC Proceedings style. Be sure to abide by the following minimum formatting requirements for submitted proposals:
* The entire manuscript must be double-spaced (text, quotations, figure legends, literature cited) at three lines per inch (12 lines/10 cm) with a 12-point font, Times New Roman. Choose the “double-spacing” option for line spacing. Leave a 1 inch (2.4-cm) margin on all sides of each page. Page size should be Letter 8 ½” by 11″. Do not justify the right margin.
* Assemble the parts of the manuscript in this order:
Main document: title, abstract (200 words), introduction (including purpose or justification), methods, results and discussion, acknowledgements, references, tables (one table per page), figure legends (on separate page preceding the first figure), figures (one figure per page, label each figure, i.e. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc)
* Supporting documents: Appendices or Supporting documents.
* One of the appendices will be the standard USNVC Type Description template, with a separate template for each described type [NOT required for “Methods, Data, and Best Practices” submissions]. When initially submitting a description only a subset of the template fields are required (identified in the template]. Should revisions be accepted, a full set of fields are required. Be sure you are familiar with the requirements of this template before describing or revising any types. You can request existing type descriptions from the USNVC Data Manager. If you are describing a new type, you can obtain a blank template from the USNVC Data Manager.
* Number all pages (including tables, and figures), starting with the title page.
* All pages of text should have line numbers as well.
Allowable file formats:
• Manuscript files in Word (.doc or .docx), WordPerfect (.wpd), Rich text format (.rtf) or LaTeX (.TEX) format.
• Tables in doc, xls, tds, or csv format (or Tables may be included in the manuscript file)
• Figures/Images in doc, jpeg, tif, gif, eps, ps, or ppt format (or Figures may be included in the manuscript file)
• Appendices for archives in doc or html format. Video appendices in mpeg format.
• Supplements can include, but are not limited to, original and derived data sets, source code for simulation models, and details of unusual statistical analyses.
Appendices and Supplements for USNVC Proceedings should be in files separate from the article (and not merged with the article file).
Tables and figures may be in a separate file or in one file together with the manuscript text. If figures are in a separate file, please provide a separate file with all the figure legends (or include it in the manuscript file).
See an Example Proposal Narrative here.
The Mechanics: Once Your Manuscript is Ready
- Submissions for proposed changes to all levels are currently sent to the Editor-In-Chief (EIC) (link).
- The EIC checks that the manuscript conforms to the requirements of the NVC Proceedings.
- The EICevaluates the manuscript to decide whether to review or reject without review (consulting with the NVC Editorial Board as needed).IF the former, the manuscript is sent to the appropriate Regional Editor (RE).
- The RE reviews the article and may reject the paper without further review or suggest potential peer reviewers. Most submissions are evaluated through a) two external reviewers, and b) USNVC subject matter experts who are familiar with both the type and related types.
- The reviewers review the manuscript and make comments and recommendations to the RE (typically within 4-6 weeks).
- The RE reviews comments and makes a decision: either a) Accept, b) Revise, c) Reject with resubmission invitation or d) Reject .
- The RE drafts a decision letter, which may include additional suggestions for revisions, and sends the letter to the EIC for proofreading.
- The decision letter is proofread, finalized and sent to the Author.
- IF the decision is “revise,” the authors revise the manuscript and resubmit to the EIC as soon as possible, preferably within six weeks. If the revised manuscript has not been submitted within 3 months of the decision, the EIC has the option of requesting that the submission be treated as a new submission (given that the USNVC may have changed since the original authors’ submission).
- The EIC reviews the revised manuscript and either requests further reviews (repeating steps 4–8 above) or makes a decision (steps 7-8 above).
- In the event the paper is accepted for publication, authors are provided a final opportunity to prepare the files related to the article for page production and publication.
Checking the manuscript status: You can check the status of your proposal submission with the Regional Editor.
Sources of Information for Revision Articles
The following kinds of information are appropriate for submitted articles.
- Quantitative data: Typically vegetation plots, with comprehensive species list and percent cover values. This is the most rigorous, and where comprehensive, the preferred data for improving the USNVC.
- Qualitative/semi-quantitative descriptions: Incomplete vegetation plot data, or site species lists, or presence/absence data. Many field ecologists have extensive experience with vegetation types based on this kind of qualitative or semi-quantitative data, and they are encouraged to use this information to improve the USNVC.
- Literature Sources: Published type information in journals or other publications other than the USNVC Proceedings. An author may use published descriptions to supplement or augment their work. In some cases, where a set of vegetation types descriptions are published in a journal by a set of authors who have no or limited interest in the USNVC, but that information could be used to improve the USNVC, an author may choose to extract that data into an article for submission to the USNVC Proceedings. The author would be expected to contact the original authors, whenever possible, to ensure appropriate use of the information.
General Criteria for Revision Articles
Not applicable to “Methods, Data, and Best Practices” submissions.
The following questions are used by the NVC Review Board and Peer Reviewers to gauge the quality of Revision Article submissions. We provide them here, so Authors may be guided by them when drafting their submissions.
Plot Data Set Characteristics and Analytical Interpretation
1. Are the number of plots (sample size) adequate for the methods used and the conclusions being drawn? Please explain. If no plots were used, is the qualitative description adequate to circumscribe the type?
a. Are the plots of appropriate size and shape?
b. Are the analytical methods used appropriate?
c. Were the data appropriately interpreted in light of any inadequacies?
2. Is the geographic distribution of the plots or observations adequate for characterizing the extant range of the unit? [e.g., well dispersed, or not clumped through artifacts of sampling]. Please explain.
3. Is the environmental and vegetation range of variation adequately covered?
Type Concept Clarity – Entitation
4. How well are the concepts circumscribed, in terms of:
a. Vegetation criteria (growth forms, diagnostic species, composition)
b. Ecological criteria (site factors, disturbances, climate)
c. Field recognition
5. Is the ecology and vegetation of the proposed unit distinct at a level comparable to related types in the NVC (e.g. across all longleaf pine types, or all coastal plains wetland types).
6. Does this proposal improve the type based on the principles of the NVC (See Box A below), including being based on physiognomic and floristic criteria, ecological meaningfulness and practicality for conservation and resource management? Explain.
BOX A. SOME PRINCIPLES OF THE USNVC (FGDC 2008)
• Develop a scientific, standardized classification system, with practical use for conservation and resource management.
• Classify existing vegetation. Existing vegetation is the plant cover, or floristic composition and vegetation structure, documented to occur at a specific location and time, preferably at the optimal time during the growing season. This Standard does not directly apply to classification or mapping of potential natural vegetation.
• Classify vegetation on the basis of inherent attributes and characteristics of the vegetation structure, growth form, species and cover, emphasizing both physiognomic and floristic criteria.
• Base criteria for the types on ecologically meaningful relationships; that is, abiotic, geographic and successional relationships help to organize the vegetation into types and levels.
• Facilitate linkages to other classifications and to vegetation mapping (but the classification is not a map legend).
• The classification is applicable over extensive areas.
• Application of the classification shall be repeatable and consistent.
• When possible, the classification standard shall use common terminology (i.e., terms should be understandable and jargon should be avoided).
Hierarchy and Nomenclature Questions
7. Is the unit well placed within the hierarchy? Is it placed in the right alliance or higher classification level unit? Does it fit cleanly within the higher unit? If it occurs at the boundary of two higher level units, does it fit the existing boundary, or does it require a change in concept of the higher unit? )
8. Is the choice and rationale for the types scientific and colloquial names appropriate?
Analytical Guidelines for Revision Articles
Proposal Conceptual Development
All proposals are expected to be repeatable by explicitly stating all decisions, analyses, and interpretation anomalies of their work. There are ten primary components to vegetation classification, the complexity of the individual components depending on the situation, but all of them are important. Peet & Roberts (2012) define those components below, and provide greater detail if needed. It is essential that all these components are somehow addressed in the proposal.
Project planning. Defining the geographic and ecological extent or range of the study allows data needs to be defined and existing data to be identified and evaluated. Often this will involve extensive preliminary work to aid in selection of field sites, perhaps through stratification relative to composition or environment or successional development, or in more human-dominated systems through searching out the remaining examples of natural and semi-natural vegetation. This is an important decision as all type concepts of the USNVC are described to encompass the entire range of that concept; if proposers are only examining a portion of that range (e.g. from a national park, or from one state for a type that occurs in several to many states), the proposed changes will not likely lead to a concept change.
Data acquisition. Once the objective of the study is defined, quantitative data characterizing vegetation composition must be acquired as new records or from databases of previously collected vegetation records. At a minimum, each record will contain the date and location of observation, some attributes of the site, a list of plant taxa and some measure of importance for each taxon. A clear description of data collection methods is required, and collection is expected to include all strata (USNVC concepts are based on floristics of all strata, at least at the lowest levels). We require plot recordsto be deposited in VegBank or some other public database.
Data preparation. Before the vegetation composition data can be analyzed, the observation records need to be combined into a single dataset wherein inconsistences in field methods, scales of observation, measures of abundance, units of environment, resolution of species identifications and inconsistent taxonomic authorities have all been resolved. Although the goal is straight forward, complete integration without loss of information is often impossible and this component often involves a number of difficult and often subjective decisions. There are many decisions here, especially if authors are using data that was not collected by them, and all need to be clearly spelled out. The taxonomy of the USNVC is based on the USDA Plants Database. Locations of herbarium specimens should also be noted.
Community entitation. This is the most essential step in classification as it is the recognition or creation of the entities that constitute the classification units. A broad range of methods can be employed, often iteratively and in combination, to define the classification units or “types.” As per the USNVC, we consider the current classification that is based on a century of work and expert opinion to be robust and only new analyses that clearly improve the classification warrant changing the classification. We suggest authors scrutinize their entities in relation to the USNVC (see classification Integration below) as they determine entities.
Type concept assessment. Once entities have been defined, it is important to critically analyze the results to determine that the types are relatively homogeneous and distinct from other types (Lepš & Šmilauer 2003), and to assure that distributions of species within types exhibit high fidelity and ecologically interpretable patterns. The criteria often involve formal assessment of the quantitative similarity (or dissimilarity) of vegetation composition within versus between types and the calculation of quantitative indices of species fidelity to types. E.g. various metrics are available to assess cluster or ordination homogeneity of a type, or to assess homogeneity of tabular summaries of a type.
Community characterization. Entities must be characterized in a way that allows additional occurrences to be recognized with less than a full-scale reanalysis, and also allows placement in a larger system of community types. Traditionally, this has included assessment of the typical abundance and frequency of taxa, and in many cases identification of indicator species and the typical range of environmental conditions. Such indicators are clearly needed to characterize (differentiate) proposed concepts from current USNVC concepts. Authors are expected to be able to state which species typify a concept and how (dominance, constancy, diagnostic strength etc.).
Community determination. Users of classifications need to be able to determine to which vegetation classification unit an instance of vegetation should be assigned, be it a published or archived record of vegetation or a new field observation. Tools range from dichotomous keys, to methods that use mathematical similarity, to expert systems. Determinations range from binary (yes/no), to multiple types with various designated degrees of fit. For this proposal, if such keys exist, the proposers are expected to help modify those keys. Otherwise, the tables of key floristics will suffice.
Classification integration. Vegetation classification is often intended to expand or revise an established, large-scale vegetation classification system. Often this involves changes in established units, or replacement of previously published units. This, in turn, requires that levels of resolution (e.g., fineness of splitting), criteria for peer review, and the importance of stability in classification systems be addressed systematically, more so than has historically been the case. For effective communication, community types need names, and the names need to be compliant with the current standards of the classification system (e.g. Weber et. al. 2000, USFGDC 2008). For a proposal to the USNVC, an effort must be made to show how the proposed changes alter the current USNVC; splitting or lumping current concepts, new concepts, improving concepts. See Table 2 in the example proposal (Palmquist, Peet & Carr, p. 42). In addition, an edited concept description must accompany all proposed changes (see specific below).
Classification documentation. The results of vegetation classification initiatives need to be documented, both as to the units recognized and the data analyzed. Different classification systems have different requirements, formats and protocols. Publication with tables summarizing composition is always important, and vegetation records used in the analysis should be deposited in a public database. Proposals and revised concept descriptions will be documented in the Proceedings and associated web pages.
Example Outline of a Revision Article
The following are components expected for Revision Articles
The Proposal consists of three main parts:
- Proposal narrative
- Edited Type Description(s)
- Additional appendices
A. Proposal Narrative: When making amendments to concepts, the following must be submitted:
- Summary – the summary should identify the vegetation concepts being submitted, their geographic range and habitat, and either a) if plot-based, the number of plots included, if available (summarized by concept or concept groupings as appropriate), the field survey methods, existing plot aggregation, analyses, and a brief statement of the results, including the number of new concepts, deleted concepts, and revised concepts, or b) if literature-based, a summary of the information supporting the concepts, including the rigor and geographic range, and lineage relationships, and a brief statement of the results, including the number of new concepts, deleted concepts, and revised concepts. Proposals may of course utilize both, especially if plot data are from a small geographic portion of the range of the concept.
- Introduction/Justification for proposed changes – this section should focus on how the existing concepts fail to accurately describe the vegetation.
i. Scope of work
- What level of the hierarchy did the analyses examine?
- Is the work focused on a regional analyses or an analysis specific to some vegetation? Does the analysis cover the entire range of the region or concept of interest?
ii. Field Methods
- Cover scale
- Taxonomic standard
- Sampling – range of environmental variation captured
- Environmental variables measured
- Plot data (size, spatial distribution, geo-referenced)
iii. Data Analysis
- Data Preprocessing
- How issues of ambiguous taxa were solved
- How issues determining inclusion of plots were solved
- Summary of number of plots, number of taxa
- Methods for deriving environmental site characteristics
- Multivariate methods used
- Software, including version number
- Judgment and interpretation (criteria used to vary from analysis)
- Post-processing – criteria for discarded outliers
- Type summary process (abundant vs. constancy)
- Use of sampling of observation points and expert knowledge
- Defend decisions regarding lumping and splitting (the general idea is that the NVC is ‘correct’ unless shown otherwise. The goal of any proposal should be to improve the classification and it is the burden of the authors to argue improvement.)
- Supporting documents or data (we strongly urge data be submitted to VegBank, but these may be ‘hidden’ from public view until publications are complete).
iv. Results and Discussion – this section should focus on how the new data or analyses improve the classification. If plot data are involved, provide summary figures (e.g., dendrograms) and tables (e.g., constancy tables) elucidating the new concepts. This section should include a summary table of the concepts that are proposed to change and how they are related to current concepts. Authors should clearly state if new concepts are being proposed and if current concepts are suggested to increase or decrease in scope or simply be deleted. Authors should clearly defend a change in concept name versus an improvement to an existing concept.
Concept description: We are trying to require the least amount of effort prior to proposal acceptance, but click here for a standard template for describing each type. The following must be provided for each concept for which changes are proposed:
- References (pertinent Full Citations in template below)
B. Type Description [update based on Aug 2017 panel decisions]: The template is the standard format for all NVC type descriptions at all levels. Proposals must include edits to existing type concepts or entirely new concepts (may be as an appendix). For either, follow the requirements under Results/Discussion – Concept Description above. Indeed, the idea is that these are essentially the same in the proposal narrative and the concept description (see Concept Description below).
For a New Type Concepts, authors are required to fill out the following sections of the description. For Editorial Notes, Authors are required to alter the current USNVC description showing all changes with document tracking.
Scientific Name: Picea mariana Acidic Peat Forest Group
Common Name (Translated Scientific Name): Black Spruce Acidic Peat Forest Group
Colloquial Name: Western Boreal Bog and Acidic Swamp Forest
Hierarchy Level: Group
Placement in Hierarchy: M299. North American Bog & Boreal Swamp Forest
Concept Sentence: This type includes both forested bogs and acidic swamps in the western US.
Type Concept Summary: This type includes both forested bogs and acidic swamps. In forested bogs ….
Classification Comments: This concept is a bit murky at the edges because ….
Concept History: This group was changed fromWestern Boreal Acidic Swamp to include forested bogs as well
Similar NVC Types: The ??? Forest is similar but differs due to …
Diagnostic Characteristics: This group is characterized by open stands of Picea mariana which ….
Banner, A., W. MacKenzie, S. Haeussler, S. Thomson, J. Pojar, and R. Trowbridge. 1993. A field guide to site identification…
Boggs, K., and M. Sturdy. 2005. Plant associations and post-fire vegetation succession in Yukon-Charley Rivers National…
Author of Concept: Tina Boucher and Don Faber-Langendoen
C. Additional Appendices: Authors may include additional documentation in support of their proposals that is not in section 4 of the proposal.