TraitBank: An open digital repository for organism traits
Results/Conclusions: TraitBank currently serves over 11 million measurements and facts for more than 1.7 million taxa. These data are mobilized from major biodiversity information systems (e.g., International Union for Conservation of Nature, Ocean Biogeographic Information System, Paleobiology Database), literature supplements (e.g., Dryad Digital Repository, Ecological Archives, Pangaea), label data from natural history collections, and legacy/unpublished data sets. Each record is accompanied by available metadata on provenance, measurements methods, sampling parameters, etc. TraitBank organizes distributed knowledge from heterogeneous sources into a lightweight, scalable semantic framework that supports retrieval and reuse for a variety of applications, ranging from large-scale synthetic analyses of biodiversity to linked data products and hands-on data science in the classroom. It complements taxon or subject-specific knowledge management systems by filling gaps (both in taxonomic and trait space), by recruiting new types of data (e.g., from text-mining, citizen-science, and specimen data digitization efforts) and by integrating knowledge across the entire tree of life and multiple scientific domains. The emerging semantic framework will facilitate data discovery, support queries across data sets, and advance data integration and exchange among projects, thus making more biodiversity data available for use in scientific and policy-oriented applications.