In January our data management tool, BEFdata, came online at:
The data portal allows project members to upload, validate and store their data in a secure environment. The website is publicly available but to do certain functions, for example upload data, requires an account. Plot descriptor and tree data from five of the Exploratory regions are now available for download (under the ‘Data’ menu item) to project members.
The portal was developed within the Biodiversity-Ecosystem Functioning (BEF-China) research unit of the German Science Foundation (FOR 891). The FunDivEUROPE portal is a copy of the data portal that the BEF-China project uses.
Data is uploaded to the portal from a formatted MS Excel 2003 Workbook, which contains both the raw data and the metadata that is required to understand and interpret the data. On upload the metadata is also saved with the raw data, so that data provenance and descriptions are preserved. As long as the raw data is in a table format, and is correctly described in the workbook, it can be uploaded into the data portal; data providers are not restricted to predefined data formats.
During the upload process data is validated and harmonised against naming conventions, which are consistent names and codes for identical objects, for example species codes. Consistent naming standards are essential when merging, sharing and searching for data.
Each task in the Exploratory Platform has a sub-project in the data portal, under the ‘Projects’ menu item, where sub-project members will upload their data to. All data collected in the Exploratory Platform will be uploaded to the data portal. Access to data is controlled by the data owner, by default only the metadata of a dataset is available for the public and project members to view on the portal. Data owners can open up their data for download to sub-project members, members of the portal, or to the public.
The next phase of development on the portal includes access to datasets from within R, general performance and usability improvements, and a site-wide search.
The BEFdata portal development team is:
Biology Institute I – Special Botany and Functional Biodiversity, University of Leipzig
Topic Maps Lab, Natural Language Processing Group, University of Leipzig
by Sophia Ratcliffe, University of Leipzig
Sophia Ratcliffe is a software developer and programmer as well as an ecologist. Within FunDivEUROPE she is working on database solutions for the Inventory and Exploratory Platforms.