Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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The development of a community agreed thesaurus of plant traits
Marie-Angélique Laporte, Ulrike Stahl, Stefan Klotz, Ingolf Kühn, Lutz Maicher, Eric Garnier, Isabelle Mougenot, Jens Kattge

Building: Elmia Congress Centre, Jönköping
Room: Rydbergsalen
Date: 2014-10-28 11:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Last modified: 2014-10-04


The TOP (Thesaurus of Plant Traits http://trait_ontology.cefe.cnrs.fr:8080/Thesauform/vizIndex.jsp) is a controlled vocabulary aiming to facilitate plant trait data integration and navigation among multiple data sources. TOP defines a major set of terms and concepts that are in use in the functional plant trait domain. TOP results of the close collaboration of the different experts from the functional plant trait community. Good practices have been followed as existing ontologies have been reused and the principle of a grammar for functional plant traits has been developed. The Thesauform tool assisted the experts during the different steps of the TOP construction, which have been term suggestion, term reevaluation, term vote, finalization of the thesaurus and finally publication. The community agreement behind TOP and its close combination with respective trait data compiled in domain specific trait databases (e.g., the TRY Plant Trait Database), will facilitate its use.

TOP has been developed as a SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System) thesaurus, a semantic web standard, which makes it fully interoperable with hundreds of resources already published under the LOD (Linked Open Data) initiative. TOP can be exported to different formats, like OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies), and thus be linked to other initiatives, i.e. the ones promoted through the OBO foundry initiative.

Finally, TOP is available online and an API has been developed to facilitate the reuse of the terms in different contexts, as GFBIO (German federation for the curation of biological data) or GBIF. That will fit the critical importance of properly connecting observational data with each other at a global scale. Furthermore when coupled with metadata standards such as Darwin Core for example, TOP will exert control over the terms that are allowed to be used in order to describe a resource by constraining the range of possible values for a property.