Standardized vocabulary for categorical variables
One of the goals of Edaphobase is to link soil-organism distribution data with trait and biological data regarding the taxa (or individuals) themselves as well as background information on the sites of occurrence. This allows more detailed biodiversity analyses.
This goal requires standardized vocabularies to allow data comparison from multiple sources. As opposed to free text input ‑ which is heterogeneous by nature and can therefore neither be compared nor be commonly analysed ‑ standardized vocabularies (“authority lists”) are provided for data input in specific information fields for categorical variables. These lists can be supplemented as needed. As a consequence, typing errors are also avoided and data is overall comparable and analysable.
Where possible, existing and established standards or quasi-standards are used. However, in most cases, lists needed to be created as necessitated by the specific organisms, experience of soil biologists or their use in data sources. The entries are either simple lists or hierarchical as required; and they can consist of several attributes (e.g., abbreviations, names or definitions).
As many of these selection lists can be very detailed and long, Edaphobase provides a small program (the “Edaphobase selection list browser”) to search the specific categorical variables, browse the associated selection lists, and even copy-and-paste specific terms into your data sheets. A Zip file of the software can be found here . After downloading the file, unpack the Zip file and follow the instructions in the “read me” file.
In the following, examples are given of such categorical variables and the sources of the lists of standardized vocabularies: