A minimum data standard for wildlife disease studies

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Tess Stevens, Ryan Zimmerman, Greg Albery, Daniel J Becker, Rebekah Kading, Carl N. Keiser, Shashank Khandelwal, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt, Raphael Krut-Landau, Clifton McKee, Diego Montecino-Latorre, Zoe O'Donoghue, Sarah H Olson, Timothée Poisot , Hailey Robertson, Sadie Jane Ryan, Stephanie Seifert, David Simons, Amanda Vicente-Santos, Chelsea Wood, Ellie Graeden, Colin J Carlson 


Thousands of scientists and practitioners conduct research on infectious diseases of
wildlife. Rapid and comprehensive data sharing is vital to the transparency and actionability
of their work, but unfortunately, most efforts designed to publically share these data are
focused on pathogen determination and genetic sequence data. Other facets of existing
surveillance data – particularly negative results – are often withheld or, at best, summarized
in a descriptive table with limited metadata. As a result, very few datasets on wildlife disease
dynamics over space and time are publicly available for synthesis research or applied uses in
conservation or public health. Here, we propose a minimum data and metadata reporting
standard for wildlife disease studies. Our checklist identifies a minimum set of 30 fields
required to standardize and document a dataset consisting of records disaggregated to the
finest possible spatial, temporal, and taxonomic scale. We illustrate how this standard is
applied to an example study, which documented a novel alphacoronavirus found in bats in
Belize. Finally, we outline best practices for how data should be formatted for optimal re-use,
and how researchers can navigate potential safety concerns around data sharing.




Animal Diseases, Biodiversity, Bioinformatics, Diseases, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology Life Sciences, Life Sciences, Microbiology, Parasitic Diseases, Veterinary Infectious Diseases, Veterinary Medicine, Virology, Virus Diseases


wildlife, One Health, surveillance, data science, open science


Published: 2024-05-19 12:43

Last Updated: 2024-05-19 16:43


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement:
The example dataset and blank templates are available from Github. No code is used in this manuscript.