The Neotoma Paleoecology Database, a multiproxy, international, community-curated data resource

John W. Williams*, Eric C. Grimm, Jessica L. Blois, Donald F. Charles, Edward B. Davis, Simon J. Goring, Russell W. Graham, Alison J. Smith, Michael Anderson, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, Allan C. Ashworth, Julio L. Betancourt, Brian W. Bills, Robert K. Booth, Philip I. Buckland, B. Brandon Curry, Thomas Giesecke, Stephen T. Jackson, Claudio Latorre, Jonathan NicholsTimshel Purdum, Robert E. Roth, Michael Stryker, Hikaru Takahara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Neotoma Paleoecology Database is a community-curated data resource that supports interdisciplinary global change research by enabling broad-scale studies of taxon and community diversity, distributions, and dynamics during the large environmental changes of the past. By consolidating many kinds of data into a common repository, Neotoma lowers costs of paleodata management, makes paleoecological data openly available, and offers a high-quality, curated resource. Neotoma's distributed scientific governance model is flexible and scalable, with many open pathways for participation by new members, data contributors, stewards, and research communities. The Neotoma data model supports, or can be extended to support, any kind of paleoecological or paleoenvironmental data from sedimentary archives. Data additions to Neotoma are growing and now include >3.8 million observations, >17,000 datasets, and >9200 sites. Dataset types currently include fossil pollen, vertebrates, diatoms, ostracodes, macroinvertebrates, plant macrofossils, insects, testate amoebae, geochronological data, and the recently added organic biomarkers, stable isotopes, and specimen-level data. Multiple avenues exist to obtain Neotoma data, including the Explorer map-based interface, an application programming interface, the neotoma R package, and digital object identifiers. As the volume and variety of scientific data grow, community-curated data resources such as Neotoma have become foundational infrastructure for big data science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-177
Number of pages22
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeography
  • Geoinformatics
  • Global
  • Micropaleontology
  • Paleoclimatology
  • Paleodatabases
  • Paleoecoinformatics
  • Paleoecology
  • Paleolimnology
  • Paleontology


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