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The neotoma package is a programmatic R interface to the Neotoma Paleoecological Database. The package is intended to both allow users to search for sites and to download data for use in analyical workflows of paleoecological research.

neotoma is part of the rOpenSci project and is also hosted on Figshare. The neotoma package is also available on CRAN as of May 3, 2015.

For more information on the package please refer to:

Goring, S., Dawson, A., Simpson, G. L., Ram, K., Graham, R. W., Grimm, E. C., & Williams, J. W.. (2015). neotoma: A Programmatic Interface to the Neotoma Paleoecological Database. Open Quaternary, 1(1), Art. 2. DOI: 10.5334/oq.ab


We welcome contributions from any individual, whether code, documentation, or issue tracking. All participants are expected to follow the code of conduct for this project.


Package functions resolve various Neotoma APIs and re-form the data returned by the Neotoma database into R data objects. The format of the Neotoma data, and the actual API functions can be accessed on the Neotoma API website.

If you have used the package please consider providing us feedback through a short survey.

Install neotoma

Currently implemented in neotoma

More functions are available through the package help. These represent the core functions:

Recent Changes

A few examples:

Find the distribution of sites with Mammoth fossils in Neotoma

#  Example requires the mapdata package:

#  You may use either '%' or '*' as wildcards for search terms:
test <- get_dataset(taxonname='Mammuthus*')

The API call was successful, you have returned  3273 records.

site.locs <- get_site(test)

# A crude way of making the oceans blue.
plot(1, type = 'n',
     xlim=range(site.locs$long)+c(-10, 10),
     ylim=range(site.locs$lat)+c(-10, 10),
     xlab='Longitude', ylab = 'Latitude')
rect(par("usr")[1],par("usr")[3],par("usr")[2],par("usr")[4],col = "lightblue")
    xlim=range(site.locs$long)+c(-10, 10),
    ylim=range(site.locs$lat)+c(-10, 10),

points(site.locs$long, site.locs$lat, pch=19, cex=0.5, col='red')

Plot the proportion of publications per year for datasets in Neotoma

# Requires ggplot2
pubs <- get_publication()

pub.years <- ldply(pubs, "[[", "meta")

ggplot(data=pub.years, aes(x = year)) +
     stat_bin(aes(y=..density..*100, position='dodge'), binwidth=1) +
     theme_bw() +
     ylab('Percent of Publications') +
     xlab('Year of Publication') +
     scale_y_continuous(expand = c(0, 0.1)) +
     scale_x_continuous(breaks = seq(min(pub.years$year, na.rm=TRUE), 2014, by=20))

Cumulative plot of record uploads to Neotoma since 1998.

Found at this gist


Obtain records & Rebuild Chronologies with Bacon

Found at this gist. Prepared in part for a Bacon (Blaauw & Christen, 2011) workshop at the 2015 International Limnogeology Conference in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada led by Amy Myrbo (University of Minnesota).

Simple paleo-data visualization

Simple paleo-data visualization in R, linking the rioja, neotoma and dplyr packages. Found at this gist.