News

January 12, 2017 - OBISenvironmental data standards sampling event

Expanding OBIS beyond species occurrences

The proposed standard published in a recent paper in Biodiversity Data Journal consists of a DarwinCore (Dwc) Event Core in combination with a DwC Occurrence Extension and a proposed enhancement to the DwC MeasurementOrFact Extension. This new structure enables the linkage of measurements or facts - quantitative and qualitative properties - to both sampling events and species occurrences, and includes additional fields for property standardization (using the NERC Vocabulary). The standard also allows to organize, aggregate, and link ocean observation events using “event hierarchy”.

Based on requirements from the growing OBIS community to manage datasets that combine biological, physical and chemical measurements, the OBIS-ENV-DATA pilot project was launched to develop a proposed standard and guidelines to make sure these combined datasets can stay together and are not, as is often the case, split and sent to different repositories. The proposal in this paper allows for the management of sampling methodology, animal tracking and telemetry data, biological measurements (e.g., body length, percent live cover, …) as well as environmental measurements such as nutrient concentrations, sediment characteristics or other abiotic parameters measured during sampling to characterize the environment from which biogeographic data was collected. The recommended practice builds on the Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) standard and on practices adopted by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). It consists of a DwC Event Core in combination with a DwC Occurrence Extension and a proposed enhancement to the DwC MeasurementOrFact Extension. This new structure enables the linkage of measurements or facts - quantitative and qualitative properties - to both sampling events and species occurrences, and includes additional fields for property standardization (using the NERC Vocabulary). We also embrace the use of the new parentEventID DwC term, which enables the creation of a sampling event hierarchy. We believe that the adoption of this recommended practice as a new data standard for managing and sharing biological and associated environmental datasets by IODE and the wider international scientific community would be key to improving the effectiveness of the knowledge base, and will enhance integration and management of critical data needed to understand ecological and biological processes in the ocean, and on land.

The proposed standard has already been brought into production on the IPT by GBIF. In addition, OBIS has already adapted its harvesting procedures. Finally, all technical aspects and best practices of the standard have to be defined in detail and made available as guidelines in the online OBIS manual, which will then be submitted to the IODE Ocean Data Standards and Best Practices project for adoption by IODE. Subsequently, the OBIS nodes and IODE data centres need to be trained. In addition, a data flow to specialized regional and global repositories for abiotic data captured by OBIS could be developed.

A follow up pilot project is submitted to IODE, called “OBIS Event Data for Science Applications”, which will build on the success of OBIS-ENV-DATA, and aims to validate and enhance the scientific purposes of developing and using OBIS Event Data with the aim to support data and information product development within the framework of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) of the Group of Earth Observation (GEO).