Discovering trait data resources is a time consuming and daunting task. One of TraitNet's goals is to facilitate trait-based research by fostering the curation, discovery, and sharing of trait data. As a first step towards the goal of an integrated system that will allow for cradle-to-eternity data curation, TraitNet is developing a Plant Functional Trait Database Registry. The Registry aims to link data owners with potential collaborators and other data consumers.
The Registry allows data consumers to search for data sources via an interface that leverages the TraitNet Plant Functional Trait Ontology, which is being developed in collaboration with CEFE (Montpellier, France) and NCEAS (Santa Barbara, USA). The Ontology is based on the NCEAS Extensible Observation Ontology (OBOE) and decomposes ‘traits’ into ‘entities’ (e.g., leaves) upon which ‘characteristics’ (e.g., percent nitrogen) are measured. This approach enables a user to search for traits via hierarchically organized plant parts (e.g., all ‘leaf’ traits) and characteristics (e.g., all chemical composition characteristics).
Data owners can register their data sets by completing the Registry Metadata Form. Note that registering your data with the Registry does not require that you make your dataset public. The metadata form includes a field to describe the usage rights for your dataset. Searches that lead to your dataset will disclose the contact information for the dataset, and data consumers will be able to contact you to propose a collaboration or to otherwise request use of your data. You will be under no obligation to do so.
We hope you will join us in our effort to facilitate data discovery for plant ecologists. The usefulness of the Registry is positively related to the number of datasets included in the Registry.