Semantics for Biodiversity

Semantics for Biodiversity

Artsdatabanken’s implementation of a Species Traitbank (Egenskapsbanken) integrates species data for Norwegian plants and animals. Ontology engineering is involved in the problem of identifying, building, and maintaining ontologies for Egenskapsbanken.  


OTTR templates are an effective means to support the integration and use of digital biodiversity data in transparent ways, leading to successful collaboration and reuse of data. We are exploring the use of OTTR templates for building the Traitbank. 

The challenge is to apply OTTR templates to the construction of the TraitBank ontology.  

Our Approach

  • Initial steps in ontology construction included outlining competency questions. 
  • The ontology for the TraitBank is populated using expert input (manual entry) and through harvesting of traits from existing internal databases at NBIC.  
  • We have implemented Reasonable Ontology Templates (OTTR) as the means for modeling the ontology and populating the TraitBank ontology.  
  • Ontology patterns are edited and published using a Semantic MediaWiki (SMW) extension for OTTR thereby providing a tool for the domain expert to work directly with templates.  
  • We are testing how the domain experts contribute to the TraitBank ontology by instantiating the templates directly in SMW as wiki page



SMW demo [coming soon]


Github site with a template library  [coming soon]


Laura Ann Slaughter, Leif Harald Karlsen, Eveliina Päivikki Kallioniemi, Martin Georg Skjæveland. Reusable Ontology Modelling Patterns for Biodiversity Data with Reasonable Ontology Templates (OTTR) Biodiversity Information Science and Standards 6: e93939, doi: (24 Aug 2022). Extended abstract presented at The Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) 2022. 



Laura Slaughter , Leif Harald Karlsen


Artsdatabanken (Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre) 


This work was partially supported by the SIRIUS Centre for Scalable Data Access (Research Council of Norway, project 237889) and Artsdatabanken (Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre)