The MANUELA database: an integrated database on meiobenthos from European marine waters
Vandepitte, L.; Vanaverbeke, J.; Vanhoorne, B.; Hernandez, F.; Bezerra, T.N.; Mees, J.; Vanden Berghe, E. (2009). The MANUELA database: an integrated database on meiobenthos from European marine waters. Meiofauna Mar. 17: 35-60
An integrated database on meiofauna was developed with the funding of the European Union Network of Excellence on Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF). The general aim of the project was to integrate the available information on the structure, dynamics and functional role of marine meiofauna, and in particular nematodes and harpacticoid copepods, into a single database to perform joint analyses. Data collection started in December 2005 and lasted for fifteen months. 83 datasets have been captured. The collected data ranged from the deep-sea to the coastal zone and from the Arctic to the Antarctic, with a focus on the North-East Atlantic region and the North Sea. Meiofaunal data were available for almost 1300 stations, representing some 140 000 distribution records. After a thorough quality control and standardisation, all the received data were uploaded into a value added database using relational database management technology. The integrated database has built-in functionalities, such as sub-selection of datasets based on spatial and/or temporal boundaries, exclusion of rare taxa and combination of data on user defined taxonomic levels. The database also allows the calculation of a variety of diversity indices. Finally, data can be exported to a commonly used data format in statistical analysis software. The advantages of an integrated database include standardisation of species lists, data quality control and bringing together large amounts of information varying over space and time. This allows the users to test hypotheses using data that could never have been collected by the individual scientists involved, thereby greatly increasing the strength of the obtained results and interpretation. Crucial to the success of compiling an integrated database is the data sharing attitude of the contributing scientists and a firm, underpinning data policy.