The Biological Traits Information Catalogue (BIOTIC) aims to provide scientists working within the field of benthic community ecology with an additional tool for their data analyses. Biological traits information of benthic species contained in the BIOTIC database can be downloaded and linked to benthic survey data. This may allow benthic data to be analysed not only on a taxonomic level but also on a functional level.

The BIOTIC database contains information on over 40 biological trait categories on selected benthic species, together with additional supporting information, including a bibliography of literature from which the information was obtained. The emphasis is on benthic invertebrates and plants. Users can browse the species list or search for information by specific categories of biological trait.

Users will notice that for many species traits information is not yet available. This may be for two reasons.

•  The information is not available due to a lack of scientifically sound knowledge.

•  The relevant information has not yet been located in the relevant literature.

Therefore, the BIOTIC database will continue to grow as new information becomes known and is added.

We would like BIOTIC to be viewed as a first source of information on which scientists can draw when conducting a traits analysis on their specific benthic datasets. We would also like to see the database evolving with the help of the users themselves. Therefore, we encourage users to contribute to the current database.

If you have any information on species not yet included as well as being aware of any literature on specific traits we have overlooked or are unaware of, please send us an e-mail with the specific information and the relevant reference. We would also like to invite experts within the field to contribute to the database based on their long experience working on specific species, which we intend to include, if there is no peer reviewed literature available. This information will be marked as a personal communication with the contributor's name in the database. The philosophy behind this being that the benefits of a more or less complete traits database will outweigh some of the uncertainties of individual entries.

We would welcome contributions of biological traits data from interested marine scientists. BIOTIC aims to develop a single portal for biological traits information by collating biological traits data from numerous scientists. In this way, the BIOTIC database would reach a critical mass of information, and be of greater use to the benthic community ecologists, far quicker than a single organization could achieve on its own.

The BIOTIC project will require additional funding in due course. However, funds would be sought to cover basic running costs, and the BIOTIC project would always aspire to make the information held freely available.

The BIOTIC project is an initiative of the Marine Biological Association (MBA), developed by the Marine Life Information Network ( MarLIN ), in collaboration with MBA scientists (Drs Hilmar Hinz and Stuart Jenkins) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (Dr Paul Somerfield). BIOTIC has been developed under funding to MarLIN from Scottish Natural Heritage and the Marine Stewardship programme of the Crown Estates Commissioners.

Contact BIOTIC

Technical queries: Dan Lear
General/Content enquiries: Emma Jackson and Olivia Langmead

Recommended citation:

MarLIN, 2006. BIOTIC - Biological Traits Information Catalogue. Marine Life Information Network. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [Cited insert date] Available from <www.marlin.ac.uk/biotic>

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