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A new generation database to help ecological research on marine organisms
Date:1/27/2014

Ecosystem functioning, or the role which organisms play in an ecosystem, is becoming increasingly important in marine ecological and conservation. To facilitate such studies an international team of scientists lead by S. Faulwetter from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HMRC) present the Polytraits database that aims to provide re-usable, and accessible data on marine bristle worms. The paper describing the new database was published in the innovative Biodiversity Data Journal, a pioneer in the publication of integrated biological data.

Benthic organisms participate in a number of biological processes in world water basins. Their functional diversity is an important community property demonstrating the role organisms have in the ecosystem and helping to understand how the community reacts to environmental changes. Polychaetes, or bristle worms, are marine worms famous for their peculiar shapes and often vivid coloration. More than 10,000 species are described in the class worldwide, most of which living in the shelf zone of the seas and oceans, burrowing in the sediment or swimming among the plankton.

At present, the Polytraits database contains almost 20,000 records on morphological, behavioural and reproductive characteristics of more than 1,000 species, all referenced by literature sources. All data on these engaging organisms can be freely accessed through the project website in different ways and formats, both human-readable and machine-readable. The new database presents a rich and easy to use collection, which cover morphological, reproductive and behavioural characteristics of polychaetes, as well as information on environmental preferences in an attempt to facilitate ecological research and conservation studies.

The researchers also provide a leading-edge approach to accessing
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Contact: Sarah Faulwetter
sarifa@hcmr.gr
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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A new generation database to help ecological research on marine organisms
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