The STOICH Database – Progress Update

STOICH (Stoichiometric Traits of Organisms in their Chemical Habitats) is an NSF EPSCoR Track-II grant-funded research program that aims to combine research within ecological stoichiometry to create a collaborative database for past and current research. Dr. Jessica Corman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is the project’s primary investigator (PI) and oversees the STOICH project in conjunction with co-PIs Hal Halvorson (University of Central Arkansas), Amy Krist (University of Wyoming), Eric Moody (Middlebury College), and Catherine Wagner (University of Wyoming), along with a variety of other researchers in other roles across the United States. 

“What’s exciting and new about this project is that we’re compiling a set of existing datasets that are located in different places or collected by different institutions and putting them together to ask broader-scale questions about ecology and evolution,” said Corman in a previous interview. “This is the first time this type of work is being done on a regional or national scale.” 

In the first year of the project, Dr. Halvorson and Data Technician, Casey Brucker, have led the creation of the STOICH database. The processes for submission of new data and data provenance have also been designed, reviewed, and implemented, in no small part due to the efforts of the metadata workgroup within the project.

One of the key aspects of the creation of the database has been a comprehensive review of the ecological stoichiometry academic literature. At the onset of the project, the STOICH team identified ~20,000 candidate articles that included data that could potentially be integrated into the STOICH database; so far, project members (including graduate and undergraduate students) have evaluated roughly half (10,000) of those papers. Assisting with the literature review is Elise Ehlers, a recent graduate of UNL, who joined the project as a Data Technician this past February. Last semester the group reviewed 850 papers. Elise explained that the literature review group is currently striving toward achieving its project group goal of reviewing 2,000 papers this semester.  

With the completion of the initial structure of the database in early 2022, the project’s efforts will now begin to turn towards populating the database. Chad Petersen, recently hired as the STOICH Project’s new Data Manager will lead these efforts. Data for the STOICH database will come from a combination of existing datasets identified during the literature review, existing databases such as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), submissions of data from project collaborators, and novel data collected by project faculty, staff, and students.

-By Michelle Zenk, UNL

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