We are fortunate enough to work in an era where increasingly large quantities of ecological and environmental data are publicly available. As a result, for many ecological questions we are no longer limited by data availability as much as we are limited by the speed at which we can organize a analyze data. To help improve ecologists ability to quickly access and analyze data we are developing a computer program called the EcoData Retriever that designs database structures for ecological datasets and then downloads the data, pre-processes it, and installs it into major database management systems (we currently support MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite and Microsoft Access). Once the EcoData Retriever has loaded the data into the database the scientist need only connect to the database using her preferred tool (e.g., MS Access, Filemaker, etc.).The Retriever can download and install small datasets in seconds and large datasets in minutes. The programs also cleanup known issues with the datasets and automatically restructure them into a form appropriate for standard database management systems. The automation of this process reduces the time for a user to get most large datasets up and running by hours, and in some cases days.

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