The nocturnal bull ant, Myrmecia pyriformis, with white background and size scale with graduations in mm.

About this Group

Data & bioinformatics

Comparative analyses across multiple species are a crucial tool for understanding biodiversity loss and resilience in the face of global change as well as evolution and adaptation. This kind of analysis requires curated data from many species as well as a phylogeny linking those species. Unfortunately, efforts at compiling such data for insect and other arthropod species lag behind similar efforts for vertebrates and plants.  While many independent resources exist (such as databases and recording schemes) that catalogue various arthropod traits, e.g. ecological habitats, distribution and occurrence, there remains a need for efforts to coordinate these various resources in a centralised, user-friendly way, via e.g. shared protocols, structures and ID tags, and for researchers to integrate these data easily into their workflows.  

This Special Interest Group brings together curators of independent resources with researchers and professionals interested in using comparative arthropod data – to present resources, and discuss and establish common data requirements and protocols. The project is intended to be ongoing as new resources emerge and are linked to the project, and greater integration is achieved.  In the short term, one anticipated outcome is that participants are all simply more aware of, and familiar with, the existence, availability and protocols of various insect data resources. This in itself may likely lead to several new data-related collaborations. In the medium term, the resources themselves might be adapted to reflect agreed shared protocols, encouraging transparency and standardisation, and harmonizing the process of data retrieval from multiple resources. In the longer term, a steering group formed from members of the SIG might aim to create a central meta-platform linking through to the various resources to make integrated analysis much easier and to make these data more widely available to researchers from a wide array of disciplines.