EthoBank is still in a prototype phase — collecting data and exploring ways to search the data. To begin the discussion, we develop three examples involving lizard headbob displays:
- Easy access to published data. A researcher wishing to conduct a comparative study of behavior across many species, relying on published data collected by other researchers. Instead of gathering and re-typing these data from the published literature, the researcher comes to EthoBank for fast access to large tables of data.
- Behavioral Encyclopedia. A researcher wanting to know what is known about the behavior of a particular taxonomic group. The researcher may, for example, be trying to choose a new study organism, or relate her own data to that of others. She might particularly want to find ethograms, experimental protocols, and to identify other researchers who could provide practical support.
- Data mining. A researcher wishing to mine existing data to ask new questions. Focal animal data are particularly rich sources of information most of which often goes unused. Imagine, for example, a researcher who wants to estimate the frequency of social interactions for each species of large mammals in the Serengeti and to compare this with the frequency of social interactions in social insects.