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Data from: A dataset of egg size and shape from more than 6,700 insect species

Cite this dataset

Church, Samuel H.; Donoughe, Seth; De Medeiros, Bruno A. S.; Extavour, Cassandra G. (2019). Data from: A dataset of egg size and shape from more than 6,700 insect species [Dataset]. Dryad.


Offspring size is a fundamental trait in disparate biological fields of study. This trait can be measured as the size of plant seeds, animal eggs, or live young, and it influences ecological interactions, organism fitness, maternal investment, and embryonic development. Although multiple evolutionary processes have been predicted to drive the evolution of offspring size, the phylogenetic distribution of this trait remains poorly understood, due to the difficulty of reliably collecting and comparing offspring size data from many species. Here we present a database of 10,449 morphological descriptions of insect eggs, with records for 6,706 unique insect species and representatives from every extant hexapod order. The dataset includes eggs whose volumes span more than eight orders of magnitude. We created this database by partially automating the extraction of egg traits from the primary literature. In the process, we overcame challenges associated with large-scale phenotyping by designing and employing custom bioinformatic solutions to common problems. We matched the taxa in this database to the currently accepted scientific names in taxonomic and genetic databases, which will facilitate the use of this data for testing the pressing evolutionary hypotheses in offspring size evolution.

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National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1257217