Are these the data you are looking for?


This entry is inspired by conversations and discussions that occurred during the recent British Ecological Society Macroecology Special Interest Group meeting in Oxford (7-8 July 2016). Macroecologists often rely on data collected by other people, which can be compiled into large databases covering wide areas and many species. These data are becoming increasingly available, but it is not always straightforward to find them. There is much potentially valuable information out there, but if we do not know about it then its value is “wasted”. So I decided to put together a list of resources I have used or know about. This a non-(yet)comprehensive list which includes databases describing trait data for terrestrial vertebrate species. Because I work mostly with mammals, there is probably a better representation of mammalian sources. The databases listed here are “freely” available (although some are appendices in subscription journals which may require requesting copies from the authors). All include data from multiple species, generally describe several traits, and some provide data from multiple locations or reflect multiple records per species.

Please feel free to add comments to this entry or email me if you know about additional resources that could be added. This list is work-in-progress and it would be great to make it better. For now, I am hoping  it may be useful for others; if nothing else, it has helped me organize my own folders.

Species-level data for diverse taxa (not just mammals)

  • Animal Diversity WebMyers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2016. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Thanks to Dieter Lukas for pointing out a way to search multiple species here.
  • Intraspecific thermal response curves for diverse taxa including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibian. Dell, A. I., Pawar, S. and Savage, V. M. (2013) The thermal dependence of biological traits. Ecology, 94: 1205–1206. DATA HERE 
  • Dietary preferences and body size for birds and mammals – EltonTraits. Wilman, H., Belmaker, J., Simpson, J., de la Rosa, C., Rivadeneira, M. M. and Jetz, W. (2014), EltonTraits 1.0: Species-level foraging attributes of the world’s birds and mammals. Ecology, 95: 2027. DATA HERE Note that some values are derived from genus or family conspecifics.
    • I am coauthor of this paper that studied mammalian diets from EltonTraits and MammalDiet (listed below) and found some potentially worrisome differences between them (the diet of the same species described differently. DATA HERE (Dryad database)
  • Mortality rates, dry mass and body temperatures for diverse taxonomic groups including data for 323 mammals (some species with more than one estimate available). McCoy, MW & Gillooly, JF (2008) Predicting natural mortality rates of plants and animals. Ecology Letters, 11: 710–716. DATA HERE (supplementary materials) 
  • Diverse trait data for birds and mammals from Madagascar. Razafindratsima, O. H., Yacoby, Y. and Park, D. S. (2018) MADA: Malagasy Animal trait Data Archive. Ecology. doi:10.1002/ecy.2167DATA HERE (supplementary materials) 

Species-level and population-level data for mammals

  • Species-level and individual study (some population-level) trait data for mammals – PanTHERIA Jones, K. E., Bielby, J., Cardillo, M., Fritz, S. A., O’Dell, J., Orme, C. D. L., Safi, K., Sechrest, W., Boakes, E. H., Carbone, C., Connolly, C., Cutts, M. J., Foster, J. K., Grenyer, R., Habib, M., Plaster, C. A., Price, S. A., Rigby, E. A., Rist, J., Teacher, A., Bininda-Emonds, O. R. P., Gittleman, J. L., Mace, G. M. and Purvis, A. (2009) PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology, 90: 2648.  Both the species level and raw (individual study records) can be downloaded at the Utheria website. I have made several corrections to the raw files in the supplementary materials of these two papers published in Ecology Letters and American Naturalist. If you do not have access to these files email me for a copy.
  • Species-level estimates of generation time for mammals. Pacifici M, Santini L, Di Marco M, Baisero D, Francucci L, Grottolo Marasini G, Visconti P, Rondinini C (2013) Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 89-94. DATA HERE (Dryad database)
  • Population-level ecological data for primates, including population density and home range. Pearce, F., Carbone, C., Cowlishaw, G., & Isaac, N. J. (2013). Space-use scaling and home range overlap in primates. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 280(1751), 20122122DATA HERE
  • Species-level body mass of late Quaternary mammals.Smith FA, Lyons SK, Ernest SK, Jones KE, Kaufman DM, Dayan T, Marquet PA, Brown JH, Haskell JP (2003) Body mass of late Quaternary mammals. Ecology, 84(12), pp.3403-3403DATA HERE

Other useful links

  • Diverse R tools to access online databases. This is not a database per se, but a useful resource.
  • EcoData Retriever is a website listing available datasets with a broader scope than those above (includes data on plants, climate, and much more) and includes an R package to make their use even easier!
  • Dr. Dieter Lukas website includes links to R tools, phylogenetic trees and trait datasets.

Many thanks to Dieter Lukas for pointing this out several new sources (within hours of posting this list!).



    • Hi Brunno, glad you found this useful. The list focuses on mammals, with some additional sources that cover other taxa but include mammals too. As the paper you shared includes data on amphibians only I will not include it directly, but the link would be in the comments and I will certainly keep in mind for my own work. Cheers


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