The data in the polytraits database can be accessed in five different ways:

  1. Browsing the data on a taxon-by-taxon basis through the Polychaetes Scratchpads (tab "Polychaetes" - tab "Traits")
  2. Accessing the data through the Encyclopedia of Life (note: currently only available to beta testers of EOL's TraitBank)
  3. Downloading the data as a comma separated value (*.csv) file . The download can be customised by submitting a list of taxa for which trait information should be retrieved or by limiting the output to specific traits. As an output format, either a polytraits-specific format or DarwinCore can be chosen. A description of the returned fields for both formats is provided below.
  4. Downloading the full database as a MySQL script , automatically created at monthly intervals. A full documentation of all database tables and fields, including an Entity Relationship Diagram is also provided. The script can be imported into any local MySQL database and will automatically create all relevant tables and their data.
  5. Accessing the data programmatically via a web service (REST API , application programming interface). This approach addresses a more technically oriented audience.

Data downloaded as *.csv files or accessed through the API always reflect the latest changes in the database, the MySQL export is provided as monthly snapshots. The data available through EOL are a one-time export and reflect the database contents as of November 6th, 2013.

Returned fields

Default csv format

List of fields returned by the polytraits database, either when downloading information from the dowload section (and choosing export option "default CSV") or when accessing the databse through the REST API.

Column label Column description
Taxon The taxon for which the information was recorded.
Author The author and year of the Taxon for which the information was recorded.
Valid taxon Currently accepted name of the Taxon (as stored in the polytraits database - information might not be up to date with the latest taxonomic literature in some cases). If Taxon is currently accepted, this field contains the same value as Taxon).
Valid author Currently accepted name of the Author (as stored in the polytraits database - information might not be up to date with the latest taxonomic literature in some cases). If Taxon is currently accepted, this field contains the same value as Author.
Taxonomic Status Information on why Taxon is not currently valid (e.g. objective synonym). If Taxon and Author are currently accepted, this field is empty.
Source of synonymy Literature reference for the Taxonomic status (if present).
Parent taxon The Taxon's direct parent in the taxonomic classification (as stored in the polytraits database).
Trait The biological trait for which information is available (e.g. "Feeding type").
Modality The sub-category of the Trait for which information is available (e.g. "Carnivore").
Modality abbreviation An abbreviated version of the often verbose modality - useful as a label in further analyses of the data (e.g. "FEED_C").
Traitvalue Describes the affinity of the Taxon to the Modality - can be either "0" (for "absent") or "1" (for "present").
Reference Literature reference leading to the assignment of the Traitvalue to the Modality for the Taxon.
DOI Digital Object Identifier (where available) of the Reference.
Value creator Person who assigned the Traitvalue to the Modality for the Taxon, supported by a Reference.
Value creation date Date and time when the above information was entered into the database.
Text Excerpt A quotation of the original text passage from the literature source that led to the assignment of assignment of the Modality/Traitvalue to the Taxon. Empty if information has not been recorded yet.
Text Excerpt creator Person who entered the Text excerpt. Only present if Text Excerpt is present.
Text Excerpt creation date Date and time when the Text Excerpt was entered into the database. Only present if Text Excerpt is present.

DarwinCore format

List of fields returned by the polytraits database when "Darwin Core" is chosen as an export option from the dowload section. DarwinCore does not provide the same granularity as the default *.csv format, and due to the structure of the standard, data indicating that a modality is "absent" are not included in this export format. The output file consequently contains fewer records than the default csv format.

Column label Column description
scientificName The taxon for which the information was recorded
scientificNameAuthorship The author and year of the taxon for which the information was recorded
acceptedNameUsage Currently accepted name and authorship of the scientificName (as stored in the polytraits database – information might not be up to date with the latest taxonomic literature in some cases.)
Taxonomic Status The status of the use of the scientificName (e.g. objective synonym, subjective synonym) as stored in the polytraits database. Empty if scientificName is the currently accepted name.
MeasurementOrFact Unique Resource Identifier pointing to the definition of a biological trait
measurementValue Unique Resource Identifier pointing to the definition of a modality (trait category) which is expressed by the current taxon.
dcterms:bibliographicCitation Full literature reference (including Digital Object Identifier (DOI) where present) supporting the trait information for the current taxon.
measurementRemarks A quotation of the original text passage containing the trait information for the current taxon
measurementDeterminedBy Person who entered the trait information for this taxon into the database.
measurementDeterminedDate Date the trait information was entered into the database or last modified.