Predicting biodiversity responses to global environmental change is a huge challenge that requires a holistic understanding of the complex interactions and feedbacks among organisms, climate, and their physical and biotic environments across space and time.
Holos: Berkeley Ecoinformatics Engine (or "Ecoengine") addresses this challenge by creating web-based building blocks to access data from established biological and environmental data repositories as well as newly digitized historical datasets rescued from orphaned or remote labs.
The ecoengine aims to be a model for informatics that promotes open science and platform-agnostic toolkits. Its architecture is structured to promote use of the integrated biological and environmental datasets in data-driven, transparent platforms. Developers and researchers of all skills are welcome to use the Ecoengine tools and hopefully be inspired to create their own with Ecoengine-based applications.
The Ecoengine was imagined by UC researchers in need of a tool to access and explore integrated biological and environmental data over space and time. Such a tool would pull from a diversity of online data repositories and display them in an easy-to-use, map-based interface to satisfy the growing demand for a holistic understanding of global change science.
Thanks to generous funding by the William M Keck Foundation in 2012, our team built a data-driven platform using an application programming interface (API) that taps an array of data streams, some of which were digitized exclusively for the Ecoengine.
Ecoengine has benefited greatly from existing biodiversity digitization and aggregation projects, including GBIF, iDigBio, Vertnet, CalBug, and Consortium of California Herbaria, as well as innovative, geospatial visualization projects like Cal-Adapt and NASA Earth Exchange. Ecoengine presents a unique combination of features, making it an invaluable tool for biodiversity and global change research:
- Biological data from disparate sources and collecting methods are integrated using a common set of core fields
- Environmental and biolotical data are combined within the same mapping interface
- Spatial and temporal data attributes are emphasized, facilitating the exploration and analysis of spatiotemporal trends in both biodiversity and the environment.