The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Ethoinformatics I: Developing a Standard Vocabulary and Data Model for Behavioral Field Research


1Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, 3Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University, 4Freelance Software Developer, Ethoinformatics Project

April 14, 2016 1:00, A 602 Add to calendar

Recent years have seen increased calls for new techniques capable of synthesizing and processing large quantities of information in many disciplines. In the behavioral sciences, including field primatology, the ability to compare organisms across time and space in aspects of their behavior, social organization, life history, etc. is of critical importance. Such efforts, however, are often hampered by a lack of standardization in the terminologies and technologies used to collect, organize, and disseminate data.

Here, we present a draft for a standard vocabulary (EthoCore) and data model (EthoGrammar), both of which have grown out of two meetings of the Ethoinformatics Working Group (EWG). The EWG comprises a group of over 50 researchers—ranging from professors emeriti to graduate students—whose research spans the geographic, taxonomic, and technological breadth of field primatology and related disciplines. The draft EthoCore vocabulary comprises a set of metadata classes and associated terms that adopts and extends a core vocabulary recommended in other biological metadata standard initiatives (e.g., Darwin Core). EthoGrammar comprises a community-derived data model that outlines how data described using the EthoCore terminology can be flexibly packaged, archived, and shared among researchers in an open and technology-independent manner.

EthoCore and EthoGrammar are versatile enough to accommodate a broad range of database types and designs already in use by members of the community. These products facilitate data sharing and comparison by enabling the conversion of project-specific datasets and databases into a common language and structure.

The Ethoinformatics Project is supported by NSF grants SMA 1338524, SMA 1338467, and SMA 1338452.