Open data tips from the Dryad curation team | Part 2: Endangered species

This is the second in a series of blog posts highlighting new guidance from the Dryad curation team. Part 1 covered human subjects data. Part 2, from curator Shavon Stewart, focuses on best practices for sharing data associated with endangered species.


Ensuring safe data sharing for species under threat

Tasmanian devils, mountain gorillas, and black rhinos all have one thing in common. They are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Data archived in Dryad are publicly available, therefore, potential risks to endangered and vulnerable species must be carefully assessed before submitting data.

It is imperative that threatened species remain safe in their natural habitat. Publishing location data and habitat descriptions can expose species to hunters, poachers, and wildlife enthusiasts which can lead to their further decline, as well as hinder conservation efforts. The key is to provide fewer details of the species’ location for those with the intention of doing harm, without overly compromising analyses or replication by other researchers.

Here at Dryad, we recommend simple actions such as masking coordinates by a few decimal points or removing exact geo-coordinates from the dataset, which can limit illegal access to these vulnerable creatures.

Modified geo-coordinates for the breeding sites of Falco naumanni, from https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jq87d

Researchers who work with vulnerable species are encouraged to consult the following resources prior to submitting data:

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