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Welcome to AnimalTraits

AnimalTraits: a curated animal trait database for body mass, metabolic rate and brain size


This is the AnimalTraits project. It contains two components:

  • The raw data and R scripts used to compile the database;
  • Source for the website.

The database is described in the paper:

Herberstein, M. E. et al. 2021. AnimalTraits: a curated animal trait database for body mass, metabolic rate and brain size

The database can be downloaded from the AnimalTraits website.

Database compilation

To compile the database, trait observations were manually extracted from peer-reviewed publications. Observations were recorded in CSV files, which we term raw files. The raw files are stored in a directory structure within the data directory.

Raw files are read by a set of R scripts that standardise the observations and compile the result into a single spreadsheet. The scripts are in the R directory (and its sub-directories). The compilation process and the R scripts are described in more detail in the R README file. The output database is written to the output directory (which is not checked in to git). The compiled database is written to two files, UTF-8 encoded observations.csv and the Excel spreadsheet format observations.xlsx. In addition, the file column-documentation.csv is copied from the data directory into the output directory. The data content of the two observations.* files is equivalent, although the spreadsheet contains a second worksheet that contains the documentation from the column-documentation.csv file. To summarise, observations.xlsx = observations.csv + column-documentation.csv.

The database compilation process ends by copying the finished products from the output directory into the website docs directory, so they are available for download from the website. The downloadable files are docs/observations.csv, docs/observations.xlsx and the documentation file docs/column-documentation.csv.


The website is intended to provide straightforward access to the compiled database. The website source is in the docs directory, and the website is available at