Mammalian Genome

, Volume 26, Issue 9–10, pp 540–547 | Cite as

Best behaviour? Ontologies and the formal description of animal behaviour

  • Georgios V. GkoutosEmail author
  • Robert Hoehndorf
  • Loukia Tsaprouni
  • Paul N. SchofieldEmail author


The development of ontologies for describing animal behaviour has proved to be one of the most difficult of all scientific knowledge domains. Ranging from neurological processes to human emotions, the range and scope needed for such ontologies is highly challenging, but if data integration and computational tools such as automated reasoning are to be fully applied in this important area the underlying principles of these ontologies need to be better established and development needs detailed coordination. Whilst the state of scientific knowledge is always paramount in ontology and formal description framework design, this is a particular problem with neurobehavioural ontologies where our understanding of the relationship between behaviour and its underlying biophysical basis is currently in its infancy. In this commentary, we discuss some of the fundamental problems in designing and using behaviour ontologies, and present some of the best developed tools in this domain.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Phenotype Ontology Disease Ontology Human Phenotype Ontology Corporeal Ability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of AberystwythAberystwythUK
  2. 2.Computational Bioscience Research CenterKing Abdullah University of Science and TechnologyThuwalSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Institute of Sport and Physical Activity Research (ISPAR)University of BedfordshireBedfordshireUK
  4. 4.Department of Physiology Development and NeuroscienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  5. 5.Centre for Computational Biology, College of Medical and Dental SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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