Biodiversity Science ›› 2014, Vol. 22 ›› Issue (3): 264-276.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2014.14012

Special Issue: Community Structure and Patterns of Tropical and Subtropical Forest in China

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Scratchpads 2.0: a virtual research environment for biodiversity sciences in the Internet era

Lisong Wang1, *(), Vincent S Smith2, Hongrui Zhang1, Xianchun Zhang1   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolution Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2. Biodiversity Informatics Group, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK
  • Received:2014-01-13 Accepted:2014-04-30 Online:2014-06-04
  • Wang Lisong

We describe key features of the Scratchpads 2.0 Virtual Research Environment (VRE), which supports the creation, management and reuse of biodiversity data. This paper provides an introduction to recent developments and status of the Scratchpads 2.0 system, including its technical architecture. Key features include mechanisms to integrate individual research data and online resources, creation and management of multilingual content, license and authorization of system and data content, dynamic tracing of data editing history, research team cooperation, and methods of data paper publication. Important technical features include effective maintenance and installation of the system, ability to build distributed architecture, modularized function and development, and implementation of related information standards. These are put into a context with related biodiversity informatics tools. Scratchpads was designed with accurate role orientation, a deep understanding of taxonomic research requirements, and excellent technical solutions. All of these attributes contribute to Scratchpads’ importance to e-infrastrature in the Internet era for taxonomy, thereby providing us with a promising tool to complete ambitious projects like World Online Flora.

Key words: biodiversity informatics, data-publishing, online flora, virtual research environment

Table 1

Case study of using Scratchpads 2.0"

Name of sites
Key Scratchpads features used
Agriculture and horticulture
Solanaceae Source (
植物分类 Botanical taxonomy
野外调查页面 Field work pages
BRAHMS 数据导入 BRAHMS data import
物种多媒体 Taxonomic media
协同管理 Collaborator management
Animal biodiversity
African Ichthyology Portal (
多语言支持(英语/法语) Multi-lingual support
社区论坛 Community forums
动物分类 Zoological taxonomy
学术文献 Scientific literature
物种多媒体 Taxonomic media
Citizen science
Diatoms Online (
达尔文核心标准 Darwin-core specimen records
动物分类 Zoological taxonomy
多用户博客 Multi-user blogs
IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants
保护评估 Conservation assessments
IUCN数据整合 IUCN data integration
多元植物分类 Multiple botanical classifications
科学文献 Scientific literature
Invasive species
Antkey (
Multi-lingual support (English/Chinese/ Indonesian)
解剖学词汇 Anatomical glossary
物种分布图 Species occurence maps
Plant Biodiversity
Arctic Flora of Canada and Alaska (
植物分类 Botanical taxonomy
自定义页面 Custom pages
自定义数据内容 Embedded custom content
Google地图 Google Maps
The International Heteropterists’ Society (
个人群组 Private organisational groups
群组交流工具 Group communication tools
科学文献 Scientific literature
动物分类 Zoological taxonomy
物种多媒体 Taxonomic media
Mosquito Taxonomic Inventory
解剖学词汇 Anatomical glossary
动物分类 Zoological taxonomy
物种多媒体 Taxonomic media
图库 Galleries
科学文献 Scientific literature

Fig. 1

Basic content types and workflow in Scratchpads 2.0. Arrows indicate the relationship between different data content"

Fig. 2

Workflow of application for Scratchpads 2.0 and distributed infrastructure illustration"

Table 2

Data and metadata standards implemeneted in Scratchpads 2.0"

Data and metadata standards
BibTeX, RIS, XML bibliographic citations
(export can also be in XML, RTF or Tagged Field)
与各种桌面和在线文献管理工具, 如Endnote, ReferenceManager, BitText和Google Scholar等进行双向数据交换
CSV / XLSX (spreadsheet content) 与电子表格数据如Excel、Access等进行数据交换(需要使用指定的数据模板格式)
Darwin Core Archive and selected extensions 达尔文数据标准, 标本数据交换标准
EXIF, XMP image metadata 图像元数据交换标准
ITIS taxon metadata standard (for taxon names and hierarchies) ITIS分类群元数据标准(适用于类群学名和分类树)
LUCID (for taxonomic keys) 与鉴定工具LUCID系统的数据交换
Nexus (character data, export only) 与系统发育分析系统或性状矩阵软件的数据交换格式Nexus
Species Profile Model (for taxon descriptions) TDWG推荐的结构化的物种描述模型标准
XML (export only, selected content in the TaxPub schema, NCBI所推荐的与NCBI相关期刊中物种描述的信息标准

Table 3

Example standard of Species Profile Module implemeted in Scratchpads 2.0"

主题术语 Items 解释和说明 Description
1 关系 Associations 描述捕食者-被捕食者; 寄主-寄生虫; 传粉, 共生, 互惠, 共栖, 杂交等生物相互关系的信息
Predator-prey; host-parasite, pollinators, symbiosis, mutualism, commensalism, hybridization…
2 行为 Behaviour 描述生物有机体对生物或非生物环境的反应
Cover actions and reactions of organism in relation to its biotic and abiotic environment
3 保护状况 Conservation status 描述物种目前或将来面临绝灭的可能性
A description of the likelihood of the species becoming extinct in the present day or in the near future
4 周期性 Cyclicity 描述物种周期性的特征, 比如物候 A state or condition characterised by regular repetition in time
5 细胞学 Cytology 描述物种的细胞生物学, 例如结构、功能等 Cell biology formation, structure and function of cells
6 特征摘要 Diagnostic description 描述物种与其相似物种的区别性特征 Distinguishing feature of this taxon from its closest relatives
7 疾病 Diseases 描述物种的疾病危害 Diseases of organisms
8 散布 Dispersal 描述物种的散布策略和机制 Dispersal strategies and mechanisms
9 分布 Distribution 描述物种按行政区域或生物地理区域界定的地理分布范围, 可以是全球性分布, 也可以是局部尺度上的分布情况。Cover ranges, e.g., a global range, or a narrower one; may be biogeographical, political or other (e.g., managed areas like conservencies); endemism; native or exotic; ref Darwin Core Geospatial extension.
10 演化 Evolution 描述物种的系统演化信息 Phylogenetic information relating to the taxon
11 一般描述 General description 广泛描述物种的综合信息 A comprehensive description of the characteristics of the taxon
12 遗传学 Genetics 有关物种的遗传信息, 包括染色体信息 Including karyotypes
13 生长 Growth 描述物种的生长速率、参数等 Rate; parameters; allometries.
14 生境 Habitat 描述物种的栖息环境, 包括地表分类(陆地、海洋)以及气候条件、忍耐幅、水平和垂直梯度上的特征
Include realm (e.g. Terrestrial etc) and climatic information (e.g. Boreal); also include requirements and tolerances; horizontal and vertical distribution.
15 立法 Legislation 描述有关该物种的立法情况 Legal regulations or statutes relating to the taxon
16 生活周期 Life cycle 专性发育转换 Obligatory developmental transformations
17 寿命 Life expectancy 描述物种的平均寿命 The average period an organism can be expected to survive
18 相似物种 Look alikes 描述与该物种相似的其他物种, 例如在入侵种群落中
Other taxa that this taxon may be confused with. Common in invasive species communities.
19 管理 Management 描述与物种的立法相关的管理情况, 比如CITES名录
A statement about the level of need to manage a taxon which can be related to a piece of legislation, e.g., a CITES list.
20 迁移 Migration 描述物种定期从一个地点移动到另外一个地点的情况, 例如动物繁殖期间的移动
Periodic movement of organisms from one locality to another (e.g., for breeding).
21 分子生物学 Molecular biology 描述物种的基因、蛋白质、生物化学(例如毒理)
Include genomic, proteomic and biochemistry (e.g. toxicity)
22 形态学 Morphology 描述物种的形态特征(也包括解剖特征)
The appearance of the taxon; e.g. habit; anatomy (the branch of morphology that deals with structure of animals)
23 生理学 Physiology 描述物种的生理学过程 An account of the physiological processes
24 居群生物学 Population biology 描述物种的丰度信息 Include abundance information
25 管理步骤 Procedures 如何处理某一类群, 已知的威胁是什么?
Deal with how you go about managing this taxon; what are the known threats to this taxon?
26 生殖 Reproduction 描述物种的生殖策略、信号和限制条件 Reproduction cues, strategies, restraints.
27 风险评估 Risk statement 描述物种的入侵风险和影响 Include invasiveness, impact
28 体积 Size 描述物种的体积, 例如周长、长、体积、重量
Average size, max, range; type of size (perimeter, length, volume, weight ...)
29 分类群生物学 Taxon biology 描述分类群的生物学特征 An account of the biology of the taxon
30 威胁 Threats 描述物种面临的威胁 The threats to which this taxon is subject
31 趋势 Trends 描述物种的居群是否稳定?是在增长还是下降等信息
An indication of whether a population is stable, or increasing or decreasing.
32 营养策略 Trophic strategy 描述物种在食物网中的位置和食物偏好 Include nutritional aspects, diet, position in food network.
33 用途 Uses 描述物种与人类利用的关系: 参考“经济植物” Relationships to humans; ref Cook “Economic Botany”

Fig. S1

Visualized interface of module management (A) and automatically taxonomic data import (B) in Scratchpads 2.0"

Fig. S2

Visualized interface of taxonomic terms editor in Scratchpads 2.0"

Fig. S3

Visulized interface of species description editor (A) and content management (B) in Scratchpads 2.0"

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