This lesson is in the early stages of development (Alpha version)

Exploring By Pointing and Clicking


Teaching: 15 min
Exercises: 15 min
  • How can I explore indexed Ixodes interaction records?

  • When should I use GloBI’s webtools?

  • How can I help point out suspicious, or missing, data?

  • How can I make suggestions?

  • Familiarize with existing web tools

  • Load sample Ixodes interaction csv datafiles into a spreadsheet

  • Articulate limitations of Web APIs

  • Locate the species interaction data sources

Global Biotic Interactions offers help to explore available species interaction datasets using basic web tools. These webtools help to answer questions like: “Which organisms do Ixodes interact with?”, “Which datasets support describe Ixodes interactions?”, and “How can I suggest improvements or point out suspicious data?”

The web page at helps search for specific interactions by (taxonomic) name, interaction type (e.g., eats, parasite of, pollinates), and data source. Similar to general purpose search engines, only a subset of matching results is shown, and more can be requested if desired. The results include a description of the interacting taxa as well as the authority and data source that is said to support (or refute!) the interaction claim.

Exercise 1. Searching for interactions

Use GloBI’s interaction search page to:

  • first, search for interactions that involve ticks (Ixodes)
  • then, narrow to search to include only tick (Ixodes) - mammal (Mammalia) interactions
  • finally, select only parasitic tick-mammal interactions

For each of the narrowing search, describe some of the data sources and references. What kind of references are they? Which data sources support the interaction claims?

Context of Interaction Results

Now that we’ve explored ways to select specific questions, let’s have a closer look at the links embedded in the search results. One of the goals of the web search tool is to provide a minimal, easy to use, way to get a sense of the wealth of interaction data that is already openly available.

Exercise 2. A closer look at interaction search results

  1. Various icons and links appear in search results. Make screenshots of the some search result and describe what these icons and links do.

  2. Various verbs (e.g., interacts with, parasite of) are used to categorize interactions. List a few of these verbs (aka interactions terms) and describe what you think they mean in your own words. Compare the description with the web resources the verbs link to.

  3. Describe how you imagine your colleagues would use the species interaction search web tool. Discuss current limitations and improvement opportunities.

Point-and-click Tool 2: Interaction Browser

Another search tool, the interaction browser, can be found at This tools uses network and bundle diagrams to help visualize a sample of the selected interaction data. Also, a geospatial constraints can be specified to select a specific area of interest. Finally, a sample csv file with supporting interaction data records can be downloaded for review.

Exercise 3. A more visual exploration of interaction data

First, open the GloBI Browser. By default, interactions of the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) are shown. It should look something like:

Now, familiarize yourself with the four panels by clicking around and exploring their interactive features:

  • Can you update the search criteria to only select tick (Ixodes) - mammal (Mammalia) interactions?
  • What happens when you select only North America in the geospatial selector?
  • How would you share your resulting diagram with others?

Finally, click on the “download csv data sample” to download the related interactions.csv file.

Open the interactions csv file in your favorite editor and describe each of the columns in your own words. Which columns need further explanation?

(Extra Credit) Make a list of all the distinct mammalian hosts and Ixodes names that were included in the csv sample.

Key Points

  • Web tools are for exploring indexed data and providing feedback

  • Web tools facilitate communication within biodiversity data community

  • Web tools are dynamic and subject to change