Package ‘traitdataform’: Formatting and Harmonizing Ecological Trait-Data

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Assistance for handling functional trait data and transferring them into the Ecological Trait-Data Standard (Schneider et al. 2018 Towards an Ecological Trait-data Standard, DOI: 10.1101/328302).

There are two major use cases for the package:

The toolset of the package includes


The package can be installed from Github via the ‘devtools’ package


System requirements

The package requires the udunits library for unit conversion to be installed. It should install automatically, but if the package installation throws an error, it might need manual installation (see this thread for help).



thesaurus <- as.thesaurus(
       body_length = as.trait("body_length", 
         expectedUnit = "mm", 
         identifier = "length"
       antenna_length = as.trait("antenna_length", 
         expectedUnit = "mm", 
         identifier = "antenna"
       metafemur_length = as.trait("metafemur_length", 
         expectedUnit = "mm", 
         identifier = "metafemur"
       eyewidth = as.trait("eyewidth_corr", 
         expectedUnit = "mm", 
         identifier = "eyewidth"
traitdataset1 <- standardize(carabids,
            thesaurus = thesaurus,
            taxa = "name_correct",
            units = "mm"


A documentation is available online at or offline in the package vignette ‘traitdataform’.


The traitdataform package links to a couple of datasets, which are used for demo purposes in the vignette and documentation, but can be used for research and production use.

The datasets have been published by their authors under Creative Commons 0 or Creative Commons Attribution license, which means they can be copied, modified, distributed without asking permission. Attribution must be given according to the dataset license.

For additional information and interpretation of the data please refer to the help pages of the data objects (e.g. calling ?carabids in R) and the original data sources given therein.

If you want further datasources published under Creative Commons Licenses or in the public domain being added to this package, feel free to file a pull-request with a script for download and harmonization in the data/ directory and a documentation appended to R/data.R!


The package invites any contributions e.g. minor fixes and spell-checks, improving interoperability with data and other packages or software for trait-data handling. Please see the Contributing Guidelines for details.

Please note that the ‘traitdataform’ project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By contributing to this project, you agree to abide by its terms.

Future features

The package is under open source development. You are invited to submit pull-requests with your improvements.

We are aiming to provide the following features in future iterations of the package:

Cite as

Schneider, F.D. (2018) traitdataform - harmonizing ecological trait data in R, v0.5.0,


Copyright (c) 2018 F.D. Schneider,

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.