Observation Template Library

A companion to the Kestrel observation data management system


This online collaboration tool allows users to define and share data templates for collecting observations in the field and managing observation data online. Developed in collaboration with Parks Canada and with support from the National Science Foundation, the Template Library and Kestrel promote greater standardization among observational data sets while allowing users to meet specific project needs.


NatureServe developed the Template Library as a companion to our observation data management system, Kestrel. Together, these tools support more efficient field collection, management, and sharing of observational data while promoting better standardization among data collectors.

Features & Benefits

The Template Library supports a wide variety of observation data structures and data collection protocols, from rare species sightings to vegetation plots and transects, monitoring data, and ecological integrity assessments. Users can select and modify an existing template, or create their own—which they can save to use again later and share with others. An observation template defines the minimal set of information that must be recorded for an observation according to a data collection protocol, as well as any necessary validation rules. It also provides multi-lingual labels and help text for each attribute. The tool promotes greater standardization among data collectors by encouraging users to reuse individual attributes and templates from the library, while allowing them the flexibility to alter certain details like the attribute's label.

Template Library features include:

  • Create, modify, and share observation data attributes and templates
  • Attribute definitions support validation rules, including controlled domain values
  • Template definitions support validation rules, including required vs. optional fields
  • Download templates in XML format for use in Kestrel or a mobile field data logger