TraitBank: Practical semantics for organism attribute data

Tracking #: 650-1860

Paper Data

Cynthia Sims Parr, Nathan Wilson, Katja S Schulz, Patrick Leary, Jennifer Hammock, Jeremy Rice, Robert J. Corrigan, Jr.
Under Review
Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) has developed a new web-accessible repository, TraitBank (, to better serve scientific discovery. EOL's TraitBank aggregates and manages attribute (trait) data across the tree of life including morphological descriptors, life history characteristics, habitat preferences, and interactions with other organisms. This paper describes how TraitBank uses Darwin Core and other standards to ingest and subsequently manage trait data in a Virtuoso triple store in a way that leverages EOL’s extensive existing infrastructure. We add to and improve the semantics of both data and metadata in order to improve interoperability across the domains of morphology, ecology, and genomics. The system takes a semantic approach and also emphasizes practicality and ease of use for experts and non-experts. In addition to aggre-gating trait data in existing literature or databases, TraitBank contributes to community-based ontologies and sets the stage for a rapid rise in annotations about attributes on specimens and citizen science observations.
Submission type: 
Tool/System Report
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