Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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CANCELLED: Connecting disparate biodiversity data into an ecological network database – the Gulf of Mexico Species Interaction database (GoMexSI)
James Simons, Jorritt Poelen, Theresa Mitchell

Last modified: 2016-11-30


Biodiversity data and databases are usually, by design and necessity, taxonomic specific (e.g. HerpNet, FishNet2, etc), although there are cases of regional, non-taxa specific, biodiversity databases. In addition, there are some biodiversity databases inclined toward a functional category, such as invasive species. And while it is critical to know of the existence and taxonomy of the many biological species of the world, a logical next step is to catalogue and understand the linkages between the species. These types of data occur in an ecosystem context, culling a subset of many species from many taxa to form the species assemblages and communities and the resulting interactions between them that make up the species interaction network. To this end, the GoMexSI (Gulf of Mexico Species Interactions) database, which is an application of GloBI (Global Biotic Interactions), is endeavoring to mine and assemble all of the recorded species interaction data for the Gulf of Mexico. To do this we are dependent on the interoperability of various biodiversity databases such as EOL (Encyclopedia of Life), NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species), etc to provide name resolution for detection of invalid species names.  Using these data, GoMexSI take advantage of the existing infrastructure of GloBI to integrate, link, and disseminate these data using various formats and methods. In addition, the relationship with GloBI negates the need to hire informatics staff, thus reducing costs. The GoMexSI database primarily harvests species interaction data from published resources, although we also accept contributed databases and datasets.  Much of these data come from theses and dissertations (25% of the references for Actinopterygii and Chondrichthyes), while other sources include peer reviewed literature, government technical reports, and conference proceedings. Currently the GoMexSI project is focused on cataloguing the predator/prey interactions of the Actinopterygii and Chondrichthyes, but will soon be adding predator/prey interaction data on marine mammals, sea and shore birds, sea turtles, and crustaceans to the database. Future plans call for the addition of host/parasite, commensal, amensal, and mutualistic interaction data. By serving these data on the publically accessible GoMexSI website we are enhancing the accessibility to biodiversity data, with clients ranging from high school teachers to fisheries ecosystem modelers