Connecting the data landscape of long‐term ecological studies: the SPI‐Birds data hub

Culina, Antica and Adriaensen, Frank and Bailey, Liam D. and Burgess, Malcolm D. and Charmantier, Anne and Cole, Ella F. and Eeva, Tapio and Matthysen, Erik and Nater, Chloé R. and Sheldon, Ben C. and Sæther, Bernt‐Erik and Vriend, Stefan J. G. and Zajkova, Zuzana and Adamík, Peter and Aplin, Lucy M. and Angulo, Elena and Artemyev, Alexandr and Barba, Emilio and Barišić, Sanja and Belda, Eduardo and Can Bilgin, C. and Bleu, Josefa and Both, Christiaan and Bouwhuis, Sandra and Branston, Claire and Broggi, Juli and Burke, Terry and Bushuev, Andrey and Camacho, Carlos and Campobello, Daniela and Canal, David and Cantarero, Alejandro and Caro, Samuel P. and Cauchoix, Maxime and Chaine, Alexis and Cichoń, Mariusz and Ćiković, Davor and Cusimano, Camillo A. and Deimel, Caroline and Dhondt, André A. and Dingemanse, Niels J. and Doligez, Blandine and Dominoni, Davide M. and Doutrelant, Claire and Drobniak, Szymon M. and Dubiec, Anna and Eens, Marcel and Erikstad, Kjell E. and Espín, Silvia and Farine, Damien R. and Figuerola, Jordi and Kavak Gülbeyaz, Pınar and Grégoire, Arnaud and Hartley, Ian R. and Hau, Michaela and Hegyi, Gergely and Hille, Sabine and Hinde, Camilla A. and Holtmann, Benedikt and Ilyina, Tatyana and Isaksson, Caroline and Iserbyt, Arne and Ivankina, Elena and Kania, Wojciech and Kempenaers, Bart and Kerimov, Anvar and Komdeur, Jan and Korsten, Peter and Král, Miroslav and Krist, Miloš and Lambrechts, Marcel and Lara, Carlos E. and Leivits, Agu and Liker, András and Lodjak, Jaanis and Mägi, Marko and Mainwaring, Mark C. and Mänd, Raivo and Massa, Bruno and Massemin, Sylvie and Martínez‐Padilla, Jesús and Mazgajski, Tomasz D. and Mennerat, Adele and Moreno, Juan and Mouchet, Alexia and Nakagawa, Shinichi and Nilsson, Jan‐Åke and Nilsson, Johan and Norte, Ana Cláudia and Oers, Kees van and Orell, Markku and Potti, Jaime and Quinn, John L. and Réale, Denis and Reiertsen, Tone K. and Rosivall, Balázs and Russel, Andrew F and Rytkönen, Seppo and Sánchez‐Virosta, Pablo and Santos, Eduardo S. A. and Schroeder, Julia and Senar, Juan C. and Seress, Gábor and Slagsvold, Tore and Szulkin, Marta and Teplitsky, Céline and Tilgar, Vallo and Tolstoguzov, Andrey and Török, János and Valcu, Mihai and Vatka, Emma and Verhulst, Simon and Watson, Hannah and Yuta, Teru and Zamora‐Marín, José M. and Visser, Marcel E. (2021) Connecting the data landscape of long‐term ecological studies: the SPI‐Birds data hub. Journal of Animal Ecology, 90 (9). pp. 2147-2160. ISSN 1365-2656

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The integration and synthesis of the data in different areas of science is drastically slowed and hindered by a lack of standards and networking programmes. Long‐term studies of individually marked animals are not an exception. These studies are especially important as instrumental for understanding evolutionary and ecological processes in the wild. Further, their number and global distribution provides a unique opportunity to assess the generality of patterns and to address broad‐scale global issues (e.g. climate change). To solve data integration issues and enable a new scale of ecological and evolutionary research based on long‐term studies of birds, we have created the SPI‐Birds Network and Database ( – a large‐scale initiative that connects data from, and researchers working on, studies of wild populations of individually recognizable (usually ringed) birds. Within year and a half since the establishment, SPI‐Birds has recruited over 120 members, and currently hosts data on almost 1,5 million individual birds collected in 80 populations over 2000 cumulative years, and counting. SPI‐Birds acts as a data hub and a catalogue of studied populations. It prevents data loss, secures easy data finding, use and integration, and thus facilitates collaboration and synthesis. We provide community‐derived data and meta‐data standards and improve data integrity guided by the principles of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR), and aligned with the existing metadata languages (e.g. ecological meta‐data language). The encouraging community involvement stems from SPI‐Bird's decentralized approach: research groups retain full control over data use and their way of data management, while SPI‐Birds creates tailored pipelines to convert each unique data format into a standard format. We outline the lessons learned, so that other communities (e.g. those working on other taxa) can adapt our successful model. Creating community‐specific hubs (such as ours, COMADRE for animal demography, etc.) will aid much‐needed large‐scale ecological data integration.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: birds, data hub, data management, data standards, database, FAIR data, long‐term studies, meta‐data standards, research network
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2020 10:03
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2022 14:39

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