CWC Researchers Share Seaside Sparrow Data

Dr. Sabrina Taylor, a co-principal investigator of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative funded Coastal Waters Consortium, has produced and shared multiple datasets that support long-term ecological research through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information & Data Cooperative (GRIIDC). This work, recently highlighted by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, assesses density, diet, movements, nest success, and gene expression patterns of Seaside Sparrows (Ammodramus martimus) to determine oil spill impacts in marshes. The outcome of this research includes a diverse and extensive data collection that includes both field and laboratory data.

When asked how other researchers can use these datasets Taylor explained that “these data could be used to verify results, or could be used for novel analyses. For example, others could use genetic sequence data to compare phylogenetic relationships among species of sparrows.”

Through the use of GenBank, Taylor has previous experience sharing genetic data but sharing other types of data, and associated metadata, is a new experience in her research career. While she expresses common concerns about sharing data before publication, Dr. Taylor agrees with the concept of sharing data and notes that “repositories like GenBank have yielded huge advances in the field of genetics.”

The biggest data management challenge for the Taylor laboratory, located at Louisiana State University’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, is keeping everything organized. To assist with laboratory data management, the Taylor lab is implementing the use of a relational database to minimize the number of data files produced and to increase accessibility of data files to collaborators.

Data management is an issue for all laboratories producing numerous datasets that include both field and laboratory data. “Get organized early” and “having a plan before you begin collecting data” are suggestions Taylor offers for other researchers managing similar data. Tools available to GoMRI researchers to assist with data management planning include a Data Management Plan Template and the GRIIDC Dataset Information Form (DIF).

Each dataset in the GRIIDC system has its own home page, or data landing page, where you can find more information about the specific data collected and a link to download the data and metadata. Data landing pages for Seaside Sparrow data collected by Dr. Taylor’s research group include:

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) have been issued for the above datasets allowing researchers to cite the data in an internationally recognized format.
Dr. Taylor will continue to collect data to assess the impact of marine oil spills on land-dwelling animals through funding provided to CWC II by the recently awarded Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative RFP IV.

Photo Credit: Researcher holds banded Seaside Sparrow. Philip Stouffer, 2011.

This research was made possible in part by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to the Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC) . The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization, and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit