Advanced metadata standards for biodiversity survey and monitoring data: Supporting of research and conservation

ADVANCE is a project of the Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration HMC

In an ever-changing world, field surveys, inventories and monitoring data are essential to predicting biodiversity responses to global drivers, such as land use and climate changes. This understanding builds the basis to timely conservation management. However, field biodiversity data collected across terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms are highly complex and heterogeneous, and the successful integration and reuse of such data depends on how they follow the FAIR principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, Reusability).
Focusing on biodiversity field monitoring data, ADVANCE aims at supporting rich metadata generation with interoperable metadata standards using semantic artefacts that facilitate data access, integration and reuse across terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms. To this purpose, we revised, adapted and expanded existing metadata standards, vocabularies and thesauri to build a FAIR metadata form (i.e., a form which is both machine-actionable and follow domain-relevant community standards), and a vocabulary of biodiversity monitoring terms.

The ADVANCE form was built based on the most comprehensive database of biodiversity monitoring schemes in Europe (DaEuMon), and using two powerful platforms that help researchers to create FAIR metadata: CEDAR Workbench and BioPortal. The CEDAR Workbench is an online, open source platform that allows data stewards and researchers to compose machine-actionable metadata templates, presented as user-friendly web forms. By having machine-readability and unique identifiers, these templates can be found, accessed and reused by the community. Bioportal is a repository of registered vocabularies that can be used to populate drop-down lists and enable autocomplete functions in the CEDAR forms. These functions facilitate filling in the forms and minimize spelling errors, operate as metadata quality control, and allow the resulting metadata instances to be machine-readable.

Controlled lists created for ADVANCE form were made available online through eLTER_CL, a thesaurus for controlled lists used by the eLTER community, registered at Bioportal.

A big challenge when integrating biodiversity datasets is the labeling of terms. It is not unusual to find two distinct terms with the same meaning or one single term with two different meanings. To harmonize biodiversity terms across realms, we also built a vocabulary of the most common terms found on biodiversity monitoring datasets. ADVANCE’s vocabulary of biodiversity monitoring terms is integrated and available online at EnvThes, the most comprehensive thesaurus of the eLTER community.

The ADVANCE metadata form will be revised by terrestrial, freshwater and marine experts and continuously updated to meet the needs of biodiversity monitoring. After revision, the ADVANCE form will be used to update and feed the European Metadata Catalogue of Biodiversity Monitoring Schemes (DaEuMon, to be back online soon).

Please, register freely at CEDAR to check ADVANCE's metadata form, a FAIR-enabling resource!

ADVANCE aims to assess metadata requirements for integrating biodiversity data from terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms
ADVANCE aims to assess metadata requirements for integrating biodiversity data from terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms