The Phyto VRE provides two tools, the atlas of taxonomy (Atlas of phytoplankton) and the atlas of morphological traits (Atlas of shapes) intend to be a reference point for marine, transitional and freshwater scientists and students interested in phytoplankton biodiversity and ecology. Both Atlases are integrated and can be easily and jointly browsed switching from taxonomic identification to morphological characterization of phytoplankton. The Atlas of phytoplankton and the Atlas of shapes include illustrative cards at hierarchical taxonomic level from phylum to genus to species. Each card consists of a detailed description of i) taxonomy, with pictures and schematic drawings, info on similar species and/or synonyms, references ii) ecological characteristics and geographical distribution of species and iii) morphological features, such as shape association, linear dimensions association and formulas for cell volume and surface.
The Phyto VRE provides access to data on taxonomy and morpho-functional traits of phytoplankton, based on LifeWatch Data Model. This Model includes the Darwin Core standard, thesauri implemented by the LifeWatch-ITA community such as PhytoTraits and other existing controlled vocabularies of relevance to LifeWatch community, all designed to harmonize scientific data. The LifeWatch Data Model gives the relevant Meta information about the dataset fields (e.g. Dataset Field Name, Description, Dataset Field DataType, Unit of measure, etc.). Data are also checked for quality: format, nomenclatural and numerical cleaning and validation using different automatic or semi-automatic tools available on the LifeWatch Data Portal.
The Phyto VRE provides users with the implementation of scientific workflows used by the research team. The ICT working group and the modelling working group jointly composed the workflow by developing and combining a series of executable stand-alone modules (e.g. LW Data Portal interaction, calculation of hidden dimension, biovolume, surface area, multi-metric indices of the ecological status). The analysis is reproducible through a workflow management system (e.g. Taverna WorkBench; see www.taverna.org.uk) which can run the orchestration of services composed for the Phytoplankton Showcases.