Centre for the synthesis
and analysis of biodiversity

A centre created and developed by the FRB
We need the community of ecologists to help construct a controlled vocabulary for field observations
To contribute please click here, login or ask for an account, and spend 10 minutes of your time choosing your term or terms, defining them, and make data sharing and re-use a real prospect!
Why do we need this?
To build the data repositories and discovery systems long-term monitoring and analysis requires, we need to know:
    • what do people need to say to describe the way they make observations and measurements, 
    • what terms do they use, and 
    • what do these terms mean?
CESAB has had a long-term goal: to facilitate the development of a Thesaurus for Ecological Observations. In 2016, supported by funding from the Region Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur we have been able to continue development of an on-line tool based on work by Laporte (2011), to harvest terms and definitions , and to develop the methods to combine these terms and definitions and deliver them to major public ontologies for global scrutiny and acceptance (such as through ENVO: Environmental Ontology1).
Having a robust set of terms and definitions (a thesaurus) that ecologists use will:
     • reduce semantic heterogeneity,
     • make it easier for us to assist groups to build databases and prepare for their analyses, and
     • help people be more efficient in their research and analyses.
How is it done?
You can, through the CESAB Thesaurus, annotate or modify proposed terms, propose any re-organisation of their occurrence, and add any terms that you think are missing.
Once submissions have been made, the Thesauform also provides the opportunity for you to ‘vote’ on the suitability of terms, definitions and sources proposed. These are then considered by an expert committee and the most favourable term or terms, with annotations, will be submitted to a relevant global ontology (e.g. ENVO) for ratification and the source, CESAB, will be acknowledged. Everyone benefits!

Laporte M-A (2011) Thesauform-Traits: a web based collaborative tool to develop a thesaurus for plant functional diversity research. PhD Thesis, University of Montpellier


1Ontology: a formal representation of knowledge about a set of terms (or concepts) within a domain and the relationships between those terms. It is used to reason about the properties of that domain, and may be used to describe the domain.