Proceedings of TDWG : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Brazilian Plant-Pollinator Interactions Network: definition of a data standard for digitization, sharing, and aggregation of plant-pollinator interaction data
expand article infoAntonio M Saraiva, José A Salim, Kayna Agostini§, Marina Wolowski|, Juliana Saragiotto Silva, Allan K Veiga, Bruno de Carvalho Albertini
‡ University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
§ Federal University of São Carlos, Araras, Brazil
| Universidade Federal de Alfenas, Alfenas, Brazil
¶ Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá, Brazil
Open Access


Pollination is considered one of the most important processes for biodiversity conservation (Kremen 2005). Recently, the global community, by means of the Intergovernmental Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES 2016), and also, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD 2002) recognized the importance of plant-pollinator interactions for ecosystems functioning and sustainable agriculture. The conservation of pollination depends of information about plant-pollinator interactions covering a great diversity of functional and taxonomic groups. Studies show that successful pollination can improve the amount and the quality of plant fecundation and fruit production (Kevan and Imperatriz-Fonseca 2002). However, the success of these actions depends on the knowledge on pollinators, their conservation and interactions with plants and the environment. In order to conserve and manage it, more information needs to be captured about plant-pollinator interactions.

Primary data about pollinators is becoming increasingly available online and can be accessed at a number of websites and portals. Many initiatives have also been created to facilitate and to stimulate the dissemination of pollination data, and examples are the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network - Pollinators Thematic Network - IABIN-PTN ( and the WebBee ( (Saraiva et al. 2003).

One important aspect of this trend is the strong reliance on standardized data schemas and protocols (e.g. Darwin Core - DwC and TDWG Access Protocol for Information Retrieval - TAPIR, respectively) that allow us to share and aggregate biological data, among which pollinator data are included.

Although plant-pollinator interaction data are critically important to our understanding of the role, importance and effectiveness of (potential) pollinators, they cannot be adequately represented by the current standards for occurrence data (such as DwC). The ways that interaction data are recorded and stored worldwide, as well as their intended use are very diverse. They lack of a common protocol and data schema, that will allow us to aggregate them in web portals and eventually use them to build decision support systems for conservation and sustainable use in agriculture, needs to be addressed.

The IABIN-PTN adopted a simple solution to characterize and digitalize plant-pollinator interaction data based on DwC (Cartolano Júnior et al. 2007), allowing the digitalization of many Latin-american collections. Following that work, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) produced a detailed survey of potential descriptors of plant-pollinators interactions. Although the ultimate goal of that work was to propose a data standard, that did not evolve (Cavalheiro et al. 2016). The FAO Global pollination project, adopted in Brazil the same simplified model used by IABIN to digitize plant-pollinator interaction data (Saraiva et al. 2010).

Recently many Brazilian scientists gathered around the Brazilian Plant-Pollinator Interactions Network (REBIPP - with the aim of developing scientific and teaching activities in the field. The main goals of the network are: generate a diagnosis of plant-pollinator interactions in Brazil; integrate knowledge in pollination of natural, agricultural, urban and restored areas; identify knowledge gaps; support public policy guidelines aimed at the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services for pollination and food production; and encourage collaborative studies among REBIPP participants.

To achieve these goals the group has resumed those previous works done under the auspices of the IABIN and FAO projects, and a data standard is being discussed. The ultimate goal is to adopt a standard and develop a database of plant-pollinator data in Brazil to be used by the national community. This proposal of a data standard (depicted in Fig. 1) can serve as a starting point for the definition of a global data standard for plant-pollinator interactions under the TDWG umbrella.

Figure 1.

Draft proposal of a plant-pollinator interaction data standard - data fields and categories.


biotic interactions, pollination, pollinators, plant, data standard, Darwin Core

Presenting author

Antonio M. Saraiva


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