EcoLens: Integration and interactive visualization of ecological datasets

TitleEcoLens: Integration and interactive visualization of ecological datasets
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsParr C S, Lee B, Bederson BB
JournalEcological Informatics
Pagination61 - 69
Date Published2007/01/01/
ISBN Number1574-9541
KeywordsData integration, Food webs, Taxonomy, Visualization

Complex multi-dimensional datasets are now pervasive in science and elsewhere in society. Better interactive tools are needed for visual data exploration so that patterns in such data may be easily discovered, data can be proofread, and subsets of data can be chosen for algorithmic analysis. In particular, synthetic research such as ecological interaction research demands effective ways to examine multiple datasets. This paper describes our integration of hundreds of food-web datasets into a common platform, and the visualization software, EcoLens, we developed for exploring this information. This publicly-available application and integrated dataset have been useful for our research predicting large complex food webs, and EcoLens is favorably reviewed by other researchers. Many habitats are not well represented in our large database. We confirm earlier results about the small size and lack of taxonomic resolution in early food webs but find that they and a non-food-web source provide trophic information about a large number of taxa absent from more modern studies. Corroboration of Tuesday Lake trophic links across studies is usually possible, but lack of links among congeners may have several explanations. While EcoLens does not provide all kinds of analytical support, its label- and item-based approach is effective at addressing concerns about the comparability and taxonomic resolution of food-web data.