Proceedings of TDWG : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Linking Heterogeneous Data in Biodiversity Research
expand article info Pamela S Soltis
‡ Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, United States of America
Open Access


Emerging cyberinfrastructure and new data sources provide unparalleled opportunities for mobilizing and integrating massive amounts of information from organismal biology, ecology, genomics, climatology, and other disciplines. Key among these data sources is the rapidly growing volume of digitized specimen records from natural history collections. With millions of specimen records currently available online, these data provide excellent information on species distributions, changes in distributions over time, phenology, and a host of traits. Particularly powerful is the integration of phylogenies with specimen data, enabling analyses of phylogenetic diversity in a spatio-temporal context, the evolution of niche space, and more. However, a major impediment is the heterogeneous nature of complex data, and new methods are needed to link these divergent data types. Challenges involve assembly, management, and sharing of data, taxonomic name resolution, the patchy nature of data availability, varying scales of data collection, and data integration.

Through case studies that link and analyze specimen data and related heterogeneous data sources to address a range of evolutionary and ecological problems, we will explore the specific challenges encountered and how these challenges may be overcome. Although many specific hypotheses may be addressed through integrated analyses of linked biodiversity and environmental data, the additional value of such data-enabled science lies in the unanticipated patterns that emerge.


natural history specimens, heterogeneous data, iDigBio, data integration

Presenting author

Pamela S. Soltis