You are here

EMODnet Biology


There is a continuous need to assemble individual biodiversity datasets, as these are essential in measuring and studying the ecosystem health of the marine environment.

The main purpose of EMODnet Biology is to unlock fragmented and hidden marine data resources, and to make these data available to both public and private individuals and organizations. EMODnet Biology is facilitating this by identifying, assembling and processing these data and making them easily accessible through the EMODnet Biology Data Portal.

In addition, a number of these data are processed into interoperable biological data products, which can help in the assessment of the environmental status of ecosystems and even complete sea basins.


EMODnet Biology is one of the seven sub-portals within the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). EMODnet is a long-term marine data initiative from the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE), underpinning its Marine Knowledge 2020 strategy.

Link with LifeWatch Taxonomic Backbone: 

Biogeographic data:

Within the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System (EurOBIS - a biogeographic database linked to the LifeWatch Taxonomic Backbone), a close cooperation with the European marine countries and regions has been set up for the identification and capture of marine monitoring and research data. EMODnet Biology is an important partner in this, as they specifically focus on the identification and capture of long-term national monitoring data.

Ecological data: 

The importance to describe species patterns and the underlying processes explaining these patterns is essential to indicate the status and future evolution of marine ecosystems. However, this requires biological information on functional and structural species attributes such as feeding ecology, reproduction, behavior, life history, etc. Several initiatives on compiling such attribute information already exist: The Biological Traits Information Catalogue (BIOTIC), Polytraits, the Plant Trait Database (TRY), etc. Unfortunately, species attribute information is often scattered and limited to a particular region or taxonomic group. To improve the large-scale functional analysis of the status of marine ecosystems, an integrated, standardized system serving this biological information is required. To meet these requirements, the EMODnet Biology started a process to collect and integrate biological trait information for European marine species: the Marine Species Traits Database.

In a first phase, seven pilot projects were started to investigate the challenges associated with collating trait information for specific taxonomic groups. In this framework a standard vocabulary of trait terms and associated definitions was developed, which will enable a greater degree of interoperability and facilitate the exchange of trait data between groups.

All species attribute information is stored in the Aphia database, the database behind the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS).

The Marine Species Traits Database is part of the LifeWatch Taxonomic Backbone. Part of the work done during the pilot projects was funded through LifeWatch.