We built the Ecoengine to enable access and integration of biodiversity information from rich and diverse repositories, some previously inaccessible. This will provide tools for researchers to understand the dynamics of biotic and abiotic change through time. The Ecoengine leverages several informatic projects and advances that the Berkeley Natural History Museums and our collaborators have invested in for the last decade, including Vertnet, Cal-Adapt, Keck HydroWatch.
The Ecoengine is built on an open API (Application Programming Interface) that enables several options for users to access to its resources. One of the entry points is the Explore Tool. This rich interface allows for hierarchical filtering across resources, geography and taxonomy. The right hand panel allows users to turn on and off background layers and data types. The data table at the bottom is sortable, links to the original records and is downloadable.
The Compare Tool is another access point to the Ecoengine with a simple search feature and multiple data visualization tools. Data sets from Explore can be imported directly into Compare for mapping and sharing.
The Data API and Library structure will allow access to the Ecoengine’s cache of records, as well as to our own charting and visualization apps (Ecoengine Apps) and third-party developed apps. A current partner, rOpenSci, will develop custom-written R Statistics tools to help R users access and integrate data with their own R models. We underscore the importance of well-documented procedures to allow any developer to build tools using our data API through the Developer’s Guide and share with our user base.