Species traits: links to data and resources

Species traits are measurable structural and functional characteristics of organisms which can affect their ecological performance. Information on species traits can support the use of biological records for research and conservation.

This page contains useful links to species trait datasets and related publications that are available online.



A methodology to derive global maps of leaf traits using remote sensing and climate data (Moreno-Martinez et al., 2018): Research article.

BRYOATT - Attributes of British and Irish Mosses, Liverworts and Hornworts: Provides a codified set of attributes for 1057 British and Irish bryophyte species plus aggregates and infraspecific taxa, for use in ecological analyses. Attributes include native status, size, life form, life history, altitudinal and geographical range, substrate, habitat (EUNIS), and Ellenberg values. Also proposes a classification of the life forms applied to all taxa. Published in 2007 by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (now UKCEH).

COMPADRE Plant matrix database: Online repository for matrix population models and metadata on plants, algae and fungi. Max Plank Institute.

Ecological Flora of the British Isles (online database): Constructed from a wide variety of sources by Dr Helen Peat and Professor Alastair Fitter at the University of York, with financial support from the British Ecological Society and the Natural Environment Research Council. It consists of data on 3842 species of higher plants that occur in the Britain and Ireland (of which some 2000 species including all the natives and many common introductions have ecological traits entered). 

Global database of seed dispersal distance: Published mean and maximum measures of seed dispersal distance, study location, seed mass, seed release height, dispersal mode and growth form from Si-Chong Chen et al. (2019).

Global trait–environment relationships of plant communities (Bruelheide et al., 2018): Research article with data available on request. 

Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora: Online database bringing together standard sources of information (including PLANTATT) on the distribution and ecology of the wild flowering plants and ferns of Britain and Ireland, with reliably identified photographs. Developed by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, and the Biological records Centre, UKCEH. 

PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish Plants: Status, size, life history, geography and habitats of British and Irish Plants. This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. UKCEH.

TRY Plant Trait Database: The TRY Database integrates plant trait data from several hundreds of trait datasets in one consistent format. TRY is a network of vegetation scientists headed by Future Earth and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, providing a global database of curated plant traits, and the database a research platform of iDiv.

RBGKew/BIFloraExplorer: A taxonomic, genetic and ecological data resource for the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland. The goal of BIFloraExplorer is to present an up to date trait repository and species list for all vascular plants currently extant in Britain and Ireland. Produced by the Biodiversity Informatics Team at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Multiple taxa and interactions

An amniote life-history database to perform comparative analyses with birds, mammals, and reptiles (Myhrvold et al., 2015): A database compiled from peer-reviewed studies on individual species, macroecological studies of multiple species, existing life-history databases, and other aggregated sources as well as published books and other compilations. [Data].

COMADRE Animal matrix database: online repository for matrix population models and metadata on animals, bacteria and viruses. Max Plank Institute.

DBIF - Database of Insects and their Food Plants: Online database containing a collation of published interactions between Great Britain's invertebrate herbivores (insects and mites) and their host plants. Biological Records Centre, UKCEH. 

DoPI - The Database of Pollinator Interactions: Documents British pollinator-plant associations, and unites the disparate publications currently scattered throughout the scientific literature with unpublished reports and databases into a single online depository. University of Sussex. 

Global database of animal-seed interactions: Data of animal-seed interactions, study sites, animal body masses and seed sizes across all terrestrial seed plant groups and vertebrate groups (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals). Compiled for research paper A mammoth mouthful? A test of the idea that larger animals ingest larger seeds (Si-Chong Chen, 2015). 

GlobAL daTabasE of traits and food Web Architecture (GATEWAy) v.1.0: Conglomeration of a global set of 290 complex food webs across ecosystems and study sites, with species traits such as body masses, metabolic types, movement types and ecosystem types. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research.

Global Mammal Parasite Database version 2.0 (Stevens et al., 2017): Host-parasite association data available as supplementary information.

Hairiness: The missing link between pollinators and pollination (Stavert et al., 2016): Data on flower morphology and pollinator hairiness available as supplementary information.

Towards global data products of Essential Biodiversity Variables on species traits (Kissling et al., 2018): Perspective article. 

Pantheon: An online database and analytical tool to assist invertebrate nature conservation in England. Users import lists of invertebrates, which are analysed and linked to associated habitats and resources, conservation status and other codings. Contains habitat-related traits, feeding guilds, conservation status (including rarity and threat status), legal protection data and associations with other taxa for just over 11,700 invertebrates. The data have been extracted from numerous sources within the published literature. Also allows download of raw data used in the Pantheon online database. Natural England & Biological Records Centre, UKCEH.

Plant-pollinator interactions database for construction of potential networks (Redhead et al., 2018): Plant-pollinator interactions database derived from biological recording data, unpublished experimental data and published interactions in books and papers. The database covers all recorded interactions for bees, hoverflies and butterflies in mainland GB. Compiled for research paper Potential landscape-scale pollinator networks across Great Britain: structure, stability and influence of agricultural land cover Redhead at al. (2018). 

Species traits and derivation of hairiness of oilseed rape pollinators (Woodcock et al., 2020): Dataset describing the functional effects traits derived for 57 taxonomic units (species, genus and family level classifications) of oilseed rape insect pollinators. This data provides information on both morphological and behavioural traits, typically at the species level, but also at a generic and functional group level. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.


A life cycle database for parasitic acanthocephalans, cestodes, and nematodes (Benesh at al. 2016): Host-parasite (helminth) associations the most comprehensive data summary available for these parasite taxa. [Data]

A new comprehensive trait database of European and Maghreb butterflies, Papilionoidea: Trait-based analyses explaining the different responses of species and communities to environmental changes are increasing in frequency from Middleton-Welling et al. (2020).

Developing a vocabulary and ontology for modeling insect natural history data: Example data, use cases, and competency questions (Stucky et al., 2019): A short communication reporting initial results of a new effort to develop a standardized vocabulary and ontology for insect natural history data. In particular, describing a new database of representative insect natural history data. dataset includes 189 natural history observations covering a wide range of concepts and observation types, with example data.

Effects of future agricultural change scenarios on beneficial insects (Redhead at al., 2020): Traits such as body size, wing length, diet breadth and seasonality, used to calculate functional diversity, are listed in the supplementary material. 

Grassland arthropod trait and associated environmental data collected in arable reversion sites in southern England, 2014 (Woodcock, 2020): This dataset contains arthropod species presence and abundance data, species trait data and environmental data for arable reversion sites in southern England. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

LepTraits 1.0 A globally comprehensive dataset of butterfly traits (Shirey et al., 2022): A global dataset of Lepidopteran traits, focusing initially on butterflies (ca. 12,500 species records). These traits are derived from field guides, taxonomic treatments, and other literature resources. [Data]

Life-history traits of Central European moths: Gradients of variation and their association with rarity and threats (Potocky et al., 2018): Supporting information includes data on life-history traits for Central European moths.

Morphological trait database of saproxylic beetles: A detailed measurement protocol and morphological trait database of saproxylic beetles used in the research article What does a threatened saproxylic beetle look like? Modelling extinction risk using a new morphological trait database (Hagge et al., 2021).

Optimising trait and source selection for explaining occurrence and abundance changes: A case study using British butterflies. (research article) [Data]

Patterns of invertebrate functional diversity highlight the vulnerability of ecosystem services over a 45-year period. (Greenop at al. 2021): Species traits data available from this research paper include morphological and behavioural traits for caddisflies (aquatic function), bees (pollination), ground beetles and ladybirds (pest control), and 21 crop pests. [Data]

Predicting resilience of ecosystem functioning from co-varying species’ responses to environmental change (Greenwall et al., 2019): Research article using data publishedelsewhere. 

Syrph the Net » All-Ireland Pollinator Plan: A predictive tool based on a database of Irish hoverflies to aid biodiversity management. The National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Traits data for the butterflies and macro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland, 2022 (Cook et al. 2022): A comprehensive traits database for the butterflies and macro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland. The database covers 968 species in 21 families. Ecological traits fall into four main categories: life cycle ecology and phenology, host plant specificity and characteristics, breeding habitat, and morphological characteristics. The database also contains data regarding species distribution, conservation status, and temporal trends for abundance and occupancy. [Data]

Where have all the beetles gone? Long-term study reveals carabid species decline in a nature reserve in Northern Germany (Homburg at al., 2019): Traits such as body size, and habitat preference for Carabid species are given in the supplementary material. 


Birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians

Anolis Distribution and Body size: Distributional information and traits (body size and sexual size dimorphism) for almost all species of Anolis lizards from Macroecology and macroevolution of body size in Anolis lizards (Velasco et al., 2020).

Elton Traits 1.0: Species-level foraging attributes of the world's birds and mammals (Wilman et al. (2014): [Data]

Life history characteristics of European birds (Storchova & Horak, 2018): 34 key life-history traits represented in 85 variables for 499 bird species breeding in Europe, the primary source off information being the comprehensive handbook 'The birds of the Western Palearctic'. [Data]

Phylacine: Phylogeny, body size, diet, current and estimated natural range of all mammalian species. The database includes all current mammalian species and all species that has gone extinct within the Holocene or Late Pleistocene.

SquamataBase: A natural history database and R package for comparative biology of snake feeding habits (R package/ database): An open-source R package and database of predator-prey records involving the world’s snakes.

TetraDENSITY (database): A database of population density estimates in terrestrial vertebrates.

Trait and geographic data on lizards of the world: Ecological, morphological and life history trait data for (nearly) all the world's lizards from Traits of lizards of the world: variation around a successful evolutionary design (Meiri, 2018).

Utheria (interactive web portal): Contains data on the life history, ecology, taxonomy and geography of mammals.