Ethotools - Ontology Aware Tools For the Study of Animal Behavior


EthOntos is primarily a tool for aligning behavior ontologies across species within a phylogenetic context. It works by taking a set of compatible ethograms coded as ontologies (e.g., a set of courtship descriptions in Habronattus jumping spiders) and a tree, and after aligning concepts in the ontology, providing a suite of comparative method type tests using the ontologies as tip data on the tree.

It is designed to support loading ontologies written in OWL (it uses the Jena Library). If a standard format for ontologies in the Nexus specification (e.g., Maddison, Swafford and Maddison 1997) is defined, Ethontos will definitely support it. If requested, I will add support for other formats, such as OBO.

I intend to provide the Ethontos tool in two versions. The first will be a stand alone version that includes a simplified reader for Nexus format files. The second version will be as a module for Mesquite phylogenetics package of W. & D. Maddison. The standalone version may have more ontology specific functions available, whereas the Mesquite module will integrate with all the other tools available in the Mesquite environment.


eolite is a demonstration of the comparative methods used by Ethontos. It will come in two versions, one as a Mesquite module, the second as a stand alone.


OwlWatcher is a tool for creating behavior ontologies from observational data. The idea is to start with one or more ontologies providing general terms (e.g.SABO, OBO, etc) and add terms that are specific to species and situations. Besides terms, individual exemplars of terms are added, yielding a knowledge base of events observed in the context of interest.

Besides allowing ontology/knowledge base construction, OwlWatcher will provide a number of features of interest to people studying behavior:

OwlWatcher 0.035 is now available for both OSX and Windows.

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