A solution to the challenges of interdisciplinary aggregation and use of specimen-level trait data


Understanding variation of traits within and among species through time and across space is central to many questions in biology. Many resources assemble species-level trait data, but the data and metadata underlying those trait measurements are often not reported. Here, we introduce FuTRES (Functional Trait Resource for Environmental Studies; pronounced few- tress), an online datastore and community resource for individual-level trait reporting that utilizes a semantic framework. FuTRES already stores millions of trait measurements for paleobiological, zooarchaeological, and modern specimens, with a current focus on mammals. We compare dynamically-derived extant mammal species’ body size measurements in FuTRES with summary values from other compilations, highlighting potential issues with simply reporting a single mean estimate. We then show that individual-level data improves estimates of body mass – including uncertainty – for zooarchaeological specimens. FuTRES facilitates trait data integration and discoverability, accelerating new research agendas, especially scaling from intra- to interspecific trait variability.

iScience 25, 105101
Liliana M. Dávalos
Liliana M. Dávalos
Professor of Conservation Biology

I’m interested in how biology and the environment shape biodiversity in time and space.