Official launch of AlgaeTraits, a trait database for (European) seaweeds

Added on 2022-12-14 15:14:15 by Vandepitte, Leen
AlgaeTraits provides standardised trait information for all European seaweeds, enabling the use of trait-based approaches over broad taxonomic, spatial and temporal scales. AlgaeTraits is a thematic subregister of the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) which links to AlgaeBase, the most complete database on global algal taxonomic information.
Today we officially launch the AlgaeTraits portal, your gateway to a trait database for (European) seaweeds. The amazing diversity of seaweeds is reflected in the ecological and morphological characteristics of the various species. Seaweed traits and functional forms have therefore long been used as a tool to answer various ecological and evolutionary questions.

AlgaeTraits is a Thematic Species Database (TSD) under the World Register of Marine Species, with currently 31 thematic editors dedicated to further complete and document macro-algal species traits. The current scope is European seaweeds, although this might evolve to a more global approach in the future. All taxonomic information within AlgaeTraits is based on AlgaeBase.

The idea and first steps to collect trait data on European macro-algae started already in 2013, by an extensive literature review supported by the Biology project of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet Biology Phase II) . The then collected trait information was further refined with input of macro-algae experts from 2015 onwards. Over the past 2 years, the trait information was gradually added to the Aphia data system, leading today to the launch of the AlgaeTraits portal.  Currently, 21 traits are included in AlgaeTraits. They can be categorized as follows: morphology, life history, life cycle and ecology. As with all global, thematic and regional databases linked to the World Register of Marine Species, also AlgaeTraits is a very dynamic work in progress. The current number of documented traits is being expanded and omissions and errors might occur, in which case the editors can always be contacted.

One of the goals of AlgaeTraits is to contribute to trait-based ecosystem models, which can then serve – amongst others - to inform marine conservation policies. As all other species databases linked to WoRMS, AlgaeTraits is also a contribution to the WoRMS endorsed project within the UN Ocean Decade, where WoRMS continues to support not only scientists, but also everyone who makes use of species names, including policy, industry and the public at large. Providing a separate portal for this species group and their traits gives a wider visibility towards a larger audience.

The Data Management Team (DMT) is supported by LifeWatch Belgium, part of the E-Science European LifeWatch Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. LifeWatch is a distributed virtual laboratory, used for different aspects of biodiversity research. The Species Information Backbone of LifeWatch aims at bringing together taxonomic and species-related data and at filling the gaps in our knowledge.

Official launch of AlgaeTraits, a trait database for (European) seaweeds


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