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Day One Pre-workshop Assignment


Teaching: 0 min
Exercises: 30 min
  • What is biotic interaction data?

  • Why/How do researchers publish interaction data?

  • Why/How do researchers reuse existing interaction data?

  • Explore ways to find existing interaction datasets

  • Understand common definitions of biotic interaction data

  • Provide one example of an existing publication that includes interaction data

  • Articulate benefits of openly sharing research data

Getting Started

Welcome to the pre-workshop assignment page of the Dead Wood 2021 Interaction Data workshop!

In this workshop, we’ll be discussing topics related to species interactions (aka biotic interactions or biotic associations) through talks, hands-on assignments, and group discussions.

Our work will be documented in interactive, collaborative documents like:

Assignment: Introduce Yourself

  1. Go to,
  2. Add your name,
  3. Add your field of work/study/research, and
  4. Describe a species interaction you enjoy or find interesting.

If you’d like, you can copy and paste the following example:

Hi, my name is [name]. The pronouns I use are [pronouns]. I am interested in [field of study/research/work]. In this workshop, I’d like to [goals]. One of my favorite biotic interaction is that of a [describe a species interaction].

To help you get started, I filled out mine:

Hi, my name is Jorrit. The pronouns I use are he, him, his. I am interested in biodiversity informatics, open science, and software engineering. In this workshop, I’d like to better understand how to make it easier for students/researchers to share and reuse species interaction data. One of my favorite interactions is of this bird (Sula leucogaster) riding on the back of a sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). See .

What are Species Interactions?

Species interactions drive the ecological engines that keep us alive. Bluntly said: without pollinators, crops would fail, without predators, populations would grow unchecked. Also recent events suggest that better understanding specific species interactions (e.g., virus-host interactions like bat zoonoses) may help us better predict, manage, or even prevent future pandemics.

Assignment: Define "Species Interaction"

  1. Write a short description of what you consider a good definition of a species interaction (with references if available).

  2. Share your results in the collaborative document with your name as a prefix in the “Species Interaction Definitions” section.

  3. Make sure that your definition is different than those already added.

How are Species Interactions Datasets Made Available?

Species interactions are an important aspect of the functioning of ecosystem. To study these ecoystems we need records, or datasets, of known species interactions. However, you may find that species interaction datasets are hard to find and access.

Assignment: Find Published Interaction Dataset

Many researchers openly publish their species interaction data in peer-reviewed journals. > 1. Find an example of such a published dataset and describe how you find it.

  1. Add the reference to the dataset and how you found it to the collaborative document, prefixed by your name.

  2. Make sure that your example is different than those already added.

Why share?

Some researchers have good reasons for either sharing or not sharing their valuable species interaction data.

Assignment: Why share?

  1. Articulate one (or more) reason to share species interaction data, and,

  2. Articulate one (or more) reason to not share, species interaction data.

  3. Share your reasons in the collaborative document, prefixed with your name.

  4. Make sure that your reasons are different than already existing ones.

Next Up: Workshop Day One

To continue your preparation for the workshop, please consider reading the following research publication:

Background Articles

Hortal, J. et al., 2015. Seven Shortfalls that Beset Large-Scale Knowledge of Biodiversity. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 46(1). Available at:

Piwowar, H.A., Day, R.S. & Fridsma, D.B., 2007. Sharing Detailed Research Data Is Associated with Increased Citation Rate. PLoS ONE. Available at:

Soranno, P.A., 2015. It’s Good to Share: Why Environmental Scientists’ Ethics Are Out of Date, BioScience. Available at

Tedersoo, L., Küngas, R., Oras, E. et al. . 2021. Data sharing practices and data availability upon request differ across scientific disciplines. Scientific Data. Available at:

If you have troubles accessing the articles, please contact the workshop organizers.

Key Points

  • Availability of species interaction datasets is limited

  • Open Data, Open Science, and FAIR principles facilitate data availability