The Neotoma Paleoecology Database
Abstract:The Neotoma Paleoecology Database (www.neotomadb.org) is a multiproxy, open-access, relational database that includes fossil data for the past 5 million years (the late Neogene and Quaternary Periods). Modern distributional data for various organisms are also being made available for calibration and paleoecological analyses. The project is a collaborative effort among individuals from more than 20 institutions worldwide, including domain scientists representing a spectrum of Pliocene-Quaternary fossil data types, as well as experts in information technology. Working groups are active for diatoms, insects, ostracodes, pollen and plant macroscopic remains, testate amoebae, rodent middens, vertebrates, age models, geochemistry and taphonomy. Groups are also active in developing online tools for data analyses and for developing modules for teaching at different levels.
A key design concept of NeotomaDB is that stewards for various data types are able to remotely upload and manage data. Cooperatives for different kinds of paleo data, or from different regions, can appoint their own stewards. Over the past year, much progress has been made on development of the steward software-interface that will enable this capability. The steward interface uses web services that provide access to the database.
More generally, these web services enable remote programmatic access to the database, which both desktop and web applications can use and which provide real-time access to the most current data. Use of these services can alleviate the need to download the entire database, which can be out-of-date as soon as new data are entered. In general, the Neotoma web services deliver data either from an entire table or from the results of a view. Upon request, new web services can be quickly generated. Future developments will likely expand the spatial and temporal dimensions of the database. NeotomaDB is open to receiving new datasets and stewards from the global Quaternary community. Research is supported by NSF EAR-0622349.