The past several hundred years of marine research have left us with a real embarrassment of riches. A vast amount of information has been discovered and recorded about the world’s oceans. When we started recording it, we probably never imagined how much knowledge we would eventually have at our disposal, and how difficult it could be to wade through it all. Research groups supported by the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) have been combing through the literature and other knowledge stores in their fields and extracting datasets of species attributes of sea birds, copepods, macro algae and other groups, and are preparing this information for dissemination online. These data will be shared via the EMODnet data portal as well as familiar venues like the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) and EOL Traitbank.
25 scientists from EMODnet, WoRMS, EOL, and several pioneering research groups which have been unearthing the first of these datasets met last week at the headquarters of Ifremer in France to discuss how best to continue this data hunt, which attributes to prioritize, and how best to format and disseminate them so they’ll be available and useful to researchers, policymakers, students, and ecosystem modelers.
There’s some marine trait data available on EOL already, so if you want to know which diatoms are the biggest, which worms are predatory, or which whales have the longest pregnancies, we can help you. Soon, though, a much wider array of information will be available. What kinds of marine wildlife attributes do you want to be able to look up?