Towards an Ecological Trait-data Standard

Schneider, Florian D; Jochum, Malte; Le Provost, Gaëtane; Ostrowski, Andreas; Penone, Caterina; Fichtmüller, David; Güntsch, Anton; Gossner, Martin M.; König-Ries, Brigitta; Manning, Pete; Simons, Nadja K. (29 May 2018). Towards an Ecological Trait-data Standard (Unpublished) (bioRxiv 328302). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 10.1101/328302

Text (preprint)
328302.full.pdf - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (1MB) | Preview

Trait-based approaches are widespread throughout ecological research, offering great potential for trait data to deliver general and mechanistic conclusions. Accordingly, a wealth of trait data is available for many organism groups, but, due to a lack of standardisation, these data come in heterogeneous formats. We review current initiatives and infrastructures for standardising trait data and discuss the importance of standardisation for trait data hosted in distributed open-access repositories. In order to facilitate the standardisation and harmonisation of distributed trait datasets, we propose a general and simple vocabulary as well as a simple data structure for storing and sharing ecological trait data. Additionally, we provide an R-package that enables the transformation of any tabular dataset into the proposed format. This also allows trait datasets from heterogeneous sources to be harmonised and merged, thus facilitating data compilation for any particular research focus. With these decentralised tools for trait-data harmonisation, we intend to facilitate the exchange and analysis of trait data within ecological research and enable global syntheses of traits across a wide range of taxa and ecosystems.

Item Type:

Working Paper


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Jochum, Malte, Penone, Caterina, Manning, Peter


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2018 11:11

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:14

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

bioRxiv (pronounced "bio-archive") is a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences.

Uncontrolled Keywords:

functional ecology, species traits, semantic web, ontologies, data standard




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback