There are a number of great datasets available for doing macroecology and community ecology at broad spatial scales. These include data on birds (Breeding Bird Survey, Christmas Bird Count), plants (Forest Inventory & Analysis, Gentry’s transects), and insects (North American Butterfly Association Counts). However, if you wanted to do work that relied on knowing the presence or abundance of individuals at particular sites (i.e., you’re looking for something other than range maps) there has never been a decent dataset to work with for mammals.
Announcing the Mammal Community Database (MCDB)
Over the past couple of years we’ve been working to fill that gap as best we could. Since coordinated continental scale surveys of mammals don’t yet exist  we dug into the extensive mammalogy literature and compiled a database of 1000 globally distributed communities. Thanks to Kate Thibault‘s leadership and the hard work of Sarah Supp and Mikaelle Giffen, we are happy to announce that this data is now freely available as a data paper on Ecological Archives.
In addition to containing species lists for 1000 locales, there is abundance data for 940 of the locations, some site level body size data (~50 sites) and a handful of reasonably long (> 10 yr) time-series as well. Most of the data is restricted to the particular mode of sampling that an individual mammalogist uses and as a result much of the data is for small mammals captured in Sherman traps.
Working with data compilations like this is always difficult because the differences in sampling intensity and approaches between studies can make it very difficult to compare data across sites. We’ve put together a detailed table of information on how sampling was conducted to help folks break the data into comparable subsets and/or attempt to control for the influence of sampling differences in their statistical models.
The joys of Open Science
We’ve been gradually working on making the science that we do at Weecology more and more open, and the MCDB is an example of that. We submitted the database to Ecological Archives before we had actually done much of anything with it ourselves , because the main point of collecting the data was to provide a broadly useful resource to the ecological community, not to answer a specific question. We were really excited to see that as soon as we announced it on Twitter
We just published a new data set of 1000 mammal communities esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.189… Check it out and do something cool with it.—
(@weecology) December 28, 2011
We know that there is tons more data out there on mammal communities. Some of it is unpublished, or not published in enough detail for us to include. Some of it has licenses that mean that we can’t add it to the MCDB without special permission (e.g., there is a lot of great LTER mammal data out there). Lots of it we just didn’t find while searching through the literature.
If folks know of more data we’d love to hear about it. If you can give us permission to add data that has more restrictive licensing then we’d love to do so . If you’re interested in collaborating on growing the database let us know. If there’s enough interest we can invest some time in developing a public portal.
The footnotes 
 We are anxiously awaiting NEON’s upcoming surveys, headed up by former Weecology postdoc Kate Thibault.
 Because anything that David Foster Wallace loved has to be a good thing.