(c) V.A. Wilton, 2021 Photo by V.A. Wilton.

Using data

The GBIF network provides access to a wealth of primary biodiversity data. How do you access the data and, as a data user, contribute to the GBIF network?

The sections below provide a brief description of the main considerations when accessing data from the GBIF-network.

Accessing data

The main ways to access data from the GBIF network are:

  • using the Data page in this portal. This is pre-filtered to biodiversity data records for Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • using the main GBIF site. This provides a rich interface to search and filter data from anywhere around the globe.
  • using the GBIF API. Please visit the GBIF website for API documentation.

Classes of GBIF-mediated datasets

When accessing and using data it is important to understand the data you are accessing. There are four classes of dataset within the GBIF network:

  • Metadata - a metadata-only dataset provides a record for undigitised resources.
  • Checklist - a catalogue of taxa that provides a list of the named organisms for a defined group and/or geographic area.
  • Occurrence - occurrence datasets provide the record of a taxon at a particular location and time. This class includes a range of data inlcuding natural history specimens through to field obervations by humans or electronic means.
  • Sampling event - record the occurrence of taxa using quantitative measurement protocols. The datasets in this class are derived from structured sampling such as vegetation transects and censuses.

Please visit the GBIF site to learn more about the GBIF dataset classes, data processing and backbone taxonomy.

Tools that assist access and use of the data

GBIF maintains a list of tools that have been developed to help users access and analyse biodiversity data. You can access that list here.

In particular there are a number of libraries for the R statistical programme, including a library, rgbif, that provides an interface to the GBIF API to assist analyses using the R statistical programme. There is also a Python client for the GBIF API.

Acknowledging use of GBIF-mediated data

There are no fees for using data accessed through the GBIF network, but use of the data needs to be acknowledged. Under the terms of the GBIF data user agreement, users who download individual datasets or search results and use them in research or policy agree to cite them using a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

Recommendations for citing data downloads, data sets and content from GBIF website can be found on the GBIF website at Citation guidelines.

Citing the data correctly has a number of benefits, including that it:

  • enables to GBIF collate and report on the use of the data.
  • increases scientific transparency and reproducibility by guiding other researchers to the original sources of information.
  • rewards data-publishing institutions and individuals by reinforcing the value of sharing open data and demonstrating its impact to their stakeholders and funders.
  • treats datasets published through GBIF as authored electronic data publications.

Provide feedback to assist data publishers

  • Inform GBIF of relevant uses of GBIF data that have been missed by their regular literature searches.
  • If you find a possible error in the data, you should contact the publisher directly using the contact details that GBIF provides on the publisher page. Data publishers have the responsibility for improving the quality of the data, and as a user, you play a key role in identifying where there may be errors.