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Today, an unprecedented volume of primary biodiversity data are being generated worldwide, yet significant amounts of these data have been and will continue to be lost after the conclusion of the projects tasked with collecting them. To get the most value out of these data it is imperative to seek a solution whereby these data are rescued, archived and made available to the biodiversity community. To this end, the biodiversity informatics community requires investment in processes and infrastructure to mitigate data loss and provide solutions for long-term hosting and sharing of biodiversity data.
We review the current state of biodiversity data hosting and investigate the technological and sociological barriers to proper data management. We further explore the rescuing and re-hosting of legacy data, the state of existing toolsets and propose a future direction for the development of new discovery tools. We also explore the role of data standards and licensing in the context of data hosting and preservation. We provide five recommendations for the biodiversity community that will foster better data preservation and access: (1) encourage the community’s use of data standards, (2) promote the public domain licensing of data, (3) establish a community of those involved in data hosting and archival, (4) establish hosting centers for biodiversity data, and (5) develop tools for data discovery.
The community’s adoption of standards and development of tools to enable data discovery is essential to sustainable data preservation. Furthermore, the increased adoption of open content licensing, the establishment of data hosting infrastructure and the creation of a data hosting and archiving community are all necessary steps towards the community ensuring that data archival policies become standardized.
BMC Bioinformatics 2011, 12(Suppl 15):S5 doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-S15-S5