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Ecological interactions in the Scratchpads virtual research environment

Submitted by edwbaker on Tue, 2019-05-28 21:55

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biodiversity Data Journal (2019)



Biodiversity Informatics, ecological informatics, ecological interactions


The Natural History Museum, London has a number of online databases that describe interactions between species, including the HOSTS database of lepidopteran host plants (Robinson et al. 2010) and a database of Dipterocarp Seed Predators. These databases were generally bespoke software, which has increased the technical work necessary to sustain these resources. The decision was taken to migrate these to either the Scratchpads Virtual Research Environment (VRE) (Smith et al. 2011) or to the museum's Data Portal (Scott et al. 2019), depending on the complexity of the existing resource, as both are being sustained by the Informatics Group at the Natural History Museum, London. Resources that can be best represented as a single table were moved to the Data Portal, while those best represented in a relational model were transferred to Scratchpads. In addition, the Scratchpad (Smith and Broom 2019), which already contained ecological interaction data, was migrated to the new system.

This paper describes the implementation within the Scratchpads VRE of a new ecological interactions module that is capable of handling the needs of these projects, while at the same time is flexible to handle the needs of future projects with different data sources.


All content by +Ed Baker