Ecology is a synthetic discipline benefiting from open access to data from the earth, life, and social sciences. Technological challenges exist, however, due to the dispersed and heterogeneous nature of these data. Standardization of methods and development of robust metadata can increase data access but are not sufficient. Reproducibility of analyses is also important, and executable workflows are addressing this issue by capturing data provenance. Sociological challenges, including inadequate rewards for sharing data, must also be resolved. The establishment of well-curated, federated data repositories will provide a means to preserve data while promoting attribution and acknowledgement of its use.