Join us – Announcing the first OpenTraits workshop – 4-5 August, 2018, New Orleans

We were excited to have our OpenTraits initiative featured


in the journal Functional Ecology as part of their blog. You can read more about the feature here.

Spanning animal and plant biology – the critical need for an Open Traits initiative across biology

August 4-5, 2018, prior to the Ecological Society of America annual meetings, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA  

Announcing the first OpenTraits workshop are launching their inaugural  OpenTraits worksh

op ( this summer. This workshop is part of a coordinated, international series of meetings focused on facilitating open collaboration and standardization in the collection and sharing of trait data. Find out more about their mission and this meeting here.

Why OpenTraits?

opentraitsCurrent efforts to catalogue trait data still grapple with multiple issues. Even within relatively well-sampled taxa (e.g. mammals), many ecologically important traits are unknown, and some species lack any trait information at all. Further, unlike geographic data or genetic data, trait data are messy. They are collected across a vast variety of different taxa, approaches, methods, and scales. Large trait databases and datasets have made progress on these issue by aggregating traits from numerous sources and across differing taxonomic and spatial scales. However, even these datasets are notably deficient for many traits/species.

As trait-based datasets grow and change and new initiatives begin it will be increasingly important to adopt standards for data exchange which complement and align existing biodiversity repositories (e.g., GBIF, BIEN, Encyclopedia of Life). While there are many initiatives to catalogue the diversity of life, it is increasingly a focus to include the traits of not only species but also individuals. There is much work to be done in networking together the varied approaches to trait data collation, management and dissemination across taxa and the globe, but the era of open science makes this an exciting time point to push for greater transparency and coordination across scales, from enabling individual researchers to make compatible trait datasets to an exchangeable standard to synthesising trait observations with established bioinformatics platforms.

The goal of the Open Traits community is to increase our global knowledge of the traits of organisms by:

  • Developing shared data standards;
  • Developing open-source tools and techniques for gathering, cleaning, curating, and analyzing trait data;
  • Developing methods for the prioritization of trait sampling;
  • Increasing collaboration among trait researchers; and
  • Organizing trait sampling efforts for priority regions, taxa and traits.

Are you interested in attending the meeting?

Find out more at .   If you are interested in attending the meeting please send an email by June 15th to:

Space at the venue may be limited and we are interested in ensuring a diversity of skills, taxonomic interests and backgrounds among participants. We ask those interested in attending to send us a brief email (a numbered list or bullet points is great) describing:
1) The types of traits you study
2) The types of questions you’re interested in
3) The group(s) of organisms you work with
4) Any computational skills that might be relevant

Steering and Technical Teams of

Rachael Gallagher (Macquarie University, Australia)
Brian Maitner (University of Arizona, USA)
Daniel Falster (University of New South Wales, Australia)
Xiao Feng (University of Arizona, USA)
Brad Boyle (University of Arizona, USA)
Scott Chamberlain (rOpenSci, USA)
Wendy Foden (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Aud Helen Halbritter Rechsteiner (University of Bergen, Norway)
Joshua Madin (University of Hawaii, USA)
Jeanine McGann (University of Arizona, USA)
Daniel S. Park (University of Arizona, USA)
Florian Schneider (Darmstadt, Germany)
Alexander Shenkin (Oxford University, UK)
Cyrille Violle (CNRS, France)
Yadvinder Malhi (Oxford University, UK)
Vigdis Vandvik (University of Bergen, Norway)
Brian J Enquist (Santa Fe Institute, University of Arizona, USA

You can read more about OpenTraits by visiting our site here


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