"taxa matching ALL filters" vs. "records for taxa matching ALL filters"

I am trying to download specific trait data from the entire EOL database. Specifically, I am conducting a trait search for “with known life cycle habit”. However, the number of data points the search returns varies depending on whether I select “taxa matching ALL filters” vs. “records for taxa matching ALL filters”. I call these Taxa and Records for simplicity

I tried downloading the data using the search results of “with known life cycle habit” using both of these options and I received wildly different dataset sizes
“taxa matching ALL filters”: 119,557
“records for taxa matching ALL filters”: 61,847

I first thought that maybe Taxa contains genera while the Records did not. However, this was not the case as genera do appear in the Records results

My next check was to examine a few entries that only appeared in Taxa. I selected several at random and the information I wanted “with known life cycle habit” appeared as part of the data. Additionally, I couldn’t find any reason why this entry wouldn’t be included in the Records.

This wouldn’t be a problem, except for when trying to download the data. When downloading Taxa, EOL the data does not include the life cycle habit data even though all of the entries I checked have that specific data. I can only obtain the life cycle habit data in the download when I select Records.

Can someone explain the difference between “taxa matching ALL filters” and "records for taxa matching ALL filters”?
Can someone also explain why downloading the data found using the “taxa matching ALL filters” option that the searched-for trait data is not included?

Also, When searching for “life cycle habit” with the value “biennial” the number of entries varies again, but there are more for entries for Records than Taxa this time.
“taxa matching ALL filters”: 1,297
“records for taxa matching ALL filters”: 1,320

Thanks for the help!

Great question, @tlpoppy ! It is a little cryptic, and since nearly all our users just consume the data a species at a time, we haven’t had a lot of download users to try the interface explanation out on.

You’ve detected the basic difference between the two search result types- taxa fetches a list of taxa, while records fetches all the details- the taxa, attributes, values, attribution info and metadata, for each record. Both search types may include higher taxa as well as species.

Search result numbers are affected in two ways:
-There may be multiple records for a given attribute or value for a given taxon, so there may be more records than taxa.
-There may be records that are assigned to a whole clade, such as all Saussurea are perennial. This is indicated in the record by the metadata field “inherited from”. A record like this is attached to the parent clade and to each of its descendants, but it’s a single record. So in the taxa search, the parent clade and all descendants will be listed, but a record search will only show this record once.

Please let me know if that doesn’t clear it up for your use case! We’re always looking for feedback.


Hi Jen,
This makes much more sense now, and I recognize why there are differences in the number of results. Thank you very much for this explanation.

Take care!