NatureCounts Data Standards

NatureCounts relies on two standards that have been developed in collaboration with other partners of the Avian Knowledge Network: the Bird Monitoring Data Registry (BMDR) and the Bird Monitoring Data Exchange (BMDE).

1. Bird Monitoring Data Registry

The Bird Monitoring Data Registry (BMDR) is an archive of descriptive metadata associated with all the NatureCounts datasets. As an AKN data provider, it is essential that the BMDR is completed for each contributed NatureCounts dataset. As an analyst, it is important that you consult the BMDR associated with each dataset being used in the analysis.

The BMDR may contain, for instance, information about how the sampling was determined, how the surveys were conducted (e.g. presence of broadcasting calls or use of traps, distance intervals used during point counts, etc.), or how the data have been encoded in the database. It will also contain information on how the contributors of the data expect to be acknowledged in publications and reports that rely on their data. BMDR for NatureCounts datasets can be consulted in the datasets section.

If you are a new data provider, please complete the following questionnaire, which we will use to populate the BMDR. Click here to download the BMDR questionnaire.

2. Bird Monitoring Data Exchange

The Bird Monitoring Data Exchange (BMDE) was developed with other AKN partners to be a standardized data exchange schema that would promote the sharing and analysis of observational data about birds. A working group of representatives from non-governmental organizations, government and academia met over a two-year period to define the components of this data exchange schema. The result is the creation of the bird monitoring data exchange (BMDE), which represents the content structure of bird monitoring datasets and allows the transfer of bird monitoring data across electronic information systems.

The current version of the BMDE core (2.0) includes 169 fields that are capable of capturing all metrics and descriptors associated with a bird observation. The foundation of the BMDE are the fields of the Darwin Core (DwC), a similar exchange schema developed to facilitate the interchange of distributional information about organisms, based on data from natural history collections (i.e., museums), living collections (i.e., zoos), and observations. Using Darwin Core allows bird monitoring data to be integrated with other bioinformatic initiatives such as ORNIS and GBIF. The BMDE extends the DwC schema to incorporate required variables for the comprehensive interchange of bird monitoring data. These extended fields include information on the type of survey and observer effort. The BMDE does not accommodate data on the habitats or conditions of the observation; thus data on vegetation, sea conditions, or weather conditions are not archived in the BMDE, at least not in a structured format.

We remind you that the purpose of the BMDE is not to describe all data fields of every monitoring dataset, but rather to allow sharing of information for the purpose generating various analyses. We realize that some types of datasets would require additional field extensions in order to capture it in its entirety. For example, we are currently working on a schema extension for bird banding datasets, which will be an optional add-on to the BMDE schema.

Click here to download the BMDE (version 2.00, core)

Some datasets within NatureCounts may also use an extended version of the BMDE, which includes an up to 265 data fields (including additional fields for ObservationCount and many repeats of the same concepts, such as 14 set of fields used to describe various arbitrary measurements, such as body size, etc.).