Uses of GBIF in scientific research

Peer-reviewed research citing GBIF as a data source, with at least one author from Belgium.
For all researches, please visit our "Peer-reviewed publications" page.

List of publications

  • De Pooter D, Appeltans W, Bailly N, Bristol S, Deneudt K, Eliezer M et al. (2017)

    Toward a new data standard for combined marine biological and environmental datasets - expanding OBIS beyond species occurrences

    Biodiversity Data Journal 5 e10989.

    The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) is the world’s most comprehensive online, open-access database of marine species distributions. OBIS grows with millions of new species observations every year. Contributions come from a network of hundreds of institutions, projects and individuals with common goals: to build a scientific knowledge base that is open to the public for scientific discovery and exploration and to detect trends and changes that inform society as essential elements in conservation management and sustainable development. Until now, OBIS has focused solely on the collection of biogeographic data (the presence of marine species in space and time) and operated with optimized data flows, quality control procedures and data standards specifically targeted to these data. Based on requirements from the growing OBIS community to manage datasets that combine biological, physical and chemical measurements, the OBIS-ENV-DATA pilot project was launched to develop a proposed standard and guidelines to make sure these combined datasets can stay together and are not, as is often the case, split and sent to different repositories. The proposal in this paper allows for the management of sampling methodology, animal tracking and telemetry data, biological measurements (e.g., body length, percent live cover, ...) as well as environmental measurements such as nutrient concentrations, sediment characteristics or other abiotic parameters measured during sampling to characterize the environment from which biogeographic data was collected. The recommended practice builds on the Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) standard and on practices adopted by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). It consists of a DwC Event Core in combination with a DwC Occurrence Extension and a proposed enhancement to the DwC MeasurementOrFact Extension. This new structure enables the linkage of measurements or facts - quantitative and qualitative properties - to both sampling events and species occurrences, and includes additional fields for property standardization. We also embrace the use of the new parentEventID DwC term, which enables the creation of a sampling event hierarchy. We believe that the adoption of this recommended practice as a new data standard for managing and sharing biological and associated environmental datasets by IODE and the wider international scientific community would be key to improving the effectiveness of the knowledge base, and will enhance integration and management of critical data needed to understand ecological and biological processes in the ocean, and on land.

    Keywords: Darwin Core Archive, data standardisation, ecosystem data, environmental data, oceanographic data, sample event, species occurrence, telemetry data

  • Beukhof E, Coolen J, van der Weide B, Cuperus J, de Blauwe H, Lust J (2016)

    Records of five bryozoan species from offshore gas platforms rare for the Dutch North Sea

    Marine Biodiversity Records 9(1) 91.

    This study reports on bryozoan species collected at three offshore gas platforms in the Dutch part of the North Sea. Four out of thirteen observed species are considered as rare in the Netherlands, whereas Cribrilina punctata is a new species for Dutch waters.

    Keywords: Arachnidium fibrosum, Bryozoa, Cribrilina punctata, Electra monostachys, Gas platform, Netherlands, North Sea, Offshore, Scruparia ambigua, Scruparia chelata

  • Branquart E, Brundu G, Buholzer S, Chapman D, Ehret P, Fried G et al. (2016)

    A prioritization process for invasive alien plant species incorporating the requirements of EU Regulation no. 1143/2014

    EPPO Bulletin 46(3) 603-617.

    When faced with a large species pool of invasive or potentially invasive alien plants, prioritization is an essential prerequisite for focusing limited resources on species which inflict high impacts, have a high rate of spread and can be cost-effectively managed. The prioritization process as detailed within this paper is the first tool to assess species for priority for risk assessment (RA) in the European Union (EU) specifically designed to incorporate the requirements of EU Regulation no. 1143/2014. The prioritization process can be used for any plant species alien to the EU, whether currently present within the territory or absent. The purpose of the prioritization is to act as a preliminarily evaluation to determine which species have the highest priority for RA at the EU level and may eventually be proposed for inclusion in the list of invasive alien species of EU concern. The preliminary risk assessment stage (Stage 1), prioritizes species into one of four lists (EU List of Invasive Alien Plants, EU Observation List of Invasive Alien Plants, EU List of Minor Concern and the Residual List) based on their potential for spread coupled with impacts. The impacts on native species and ecosystem functions and related ecosystem services are emphasized in line with Article 4.3(c) of the Regulation. Only those species included in the EU List of Invasive Alien Plants proceed to Stage 2 where potential for further spread and establishment coupled with evaluating preventative and management actions is evaluated. The output of Stage 2 is to prioritize those species which have the highest priority for a RA at the EU level or should be considered under national measures which may involve a trade ban, cessation of cultivation, monitoring, control, containment or eradication. When considering alien plant species for the whole of the EPPO region, or for species under the Plant Health Regulation, the original EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants remains the optimum tool. Un processus de priorisation pour les plantes exotiques envahissantes, intégrant les exigences du Règlement UE No 1143/2014 Face à un grand nombre d'espèces de plantes exotiques envahissantes, ou potentiellement envahissantes, prioriser est un pré-requis afin de concentrer des ressources limitées sur les espèces à forts impacts, ayant un potentiel important de dissémination, et pouvant être gérées de façon efficace. Le processus de priorisation, tel que décrit dans le présent article, est le premier outil permettant d’évaluer le besoin de réaliser, en priorité, pour une espèce, une évaluation du risque pour l'Union Européenne (UE), et ce en cohérence avec les exigences du Règlement UE No 1143/2014. Ce processus de priorisation peut être appliqué à toute plante exotique au territoire de l’UE, qu'elle soit présente ou non sur ce territoire. L'objectif est de déterminer, lors d'une étape préliminaire, les espèces prioritaires pour lesquelles une évaluation du risque doit être conduite au niveau de l’UE, et qui pourraient éventuellement être proposées à l'inscription au sein de la liste des espèces exotiques envahissantes préoccupantes pour l’UE. L’évaluation du risque préliminaire (étape 1), classe les espèces au sein de l'une des quatre listes (liste des plantes exotiques envahissantes pour l’UE, liste d'observation des plantes exotiques envahissantes pour l’UE, liste d'importance réduite pour l’UE et liste résiduelle) sur la base de leur capacité de dissémination et de leurs impacts. Pour les impacts, l'accent est mis sur les espèces autochtones, sur les fonctions écosystémiques, ainsi que les services écosystémiques, en cohérence avec l'article 4.3(c) du Règlement UE. Seulement les espèces classées dans la liste des plantes exotiques envahissantes pour l’UE passent à la seconde étape. Au cours de cette étape sont analysés les risques de dissémination et d’établissement, ainsi que les mesures prophylactiques ou mesures de gestion possibles. L’étape 2 classe les espèces les plus prioritaires pour la réalisation d'une évaluation du risque au niveau de l’UE, ou qui devraient faire l'objet de mesures nationales telles que l'interdiction du commerce, l'arrêt de la culture, la surveillance, le contrôle, l'enrayement ou l’éradication. Le processus de priorisation OEPP d'origine reste néanmoins l'outil optimal lorsque le processus est à réaliser sur l'ensemble de la région OEPP, ou pour des espèces réglementées dans le cadre phytosanitaire.

    Keywords: Arachnidium fibrosum, Bryozoa, Cribrilina punctata, Electra monostachys, Gas platform, Netherlands, North Sea, Offshore, Scruparia ambigua, Scruparia chelata

  • Byrne M, Gall M, Wolfe K, Agüera A (2016)

    From pole to pole: the potential for the Arctic seastar Asterias amurensis to invade a warming Southern Ocean

    Global Change Biology.

    Due to climatic warming, Asterias amurensis, a keystone boreal predatory seastar that has established extensive invasive populations in southern Australia, is a potential high-risk invader of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic. To assess the potential range expansion of A. amurensis to the Southern Ocean as it warms, we investigated the bioclimatic envelope of the adult and larval life stages. We analysed the distribution of adult A. amurensis with respect to present day and future climate scenarios using habitat temperature data to construct species distribution models (SDM). To integrate the physiological response of the dispersive phase we determined the thermal envelope of larval development to assess their performance in present day and future thermal regimes and the potential for success of A. amurensis in poleward latitudes. The SDM indicated that the thermal 'niche' of the adult stage correlates with a 0-17 °C and 1-22.5 °C range, in winter and summer, respectively. As the ocean warms the range of A. amurensis in Australia will contract, while more southern latitudes will have conditions favorable for range expansion. Successful fertilisation occurred from 3-23.8 °C. By day 12, development to the early larval stage was successful from 5.5-18 °C. Although embryos were able to reach the blastula stage at 2 °C, they had arrested development and high mortality. The optimal thermal range for survival of pelagic stages was 3.5-19.2 °C with a lower and upper critical limit of 2.6 °C and 20.3 °C, respectively. Our data predict that A. amurensis faces demise in its current invasive range while more favourable conditions at higher latitudes would facilitate invasion of both larval and adult stages to the Southern Ocean. Our results show that vigilance is needed to reduce the risk that this ecologically important Arctic carnivore may invade the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    Keywords: Antarctica, asteroid, climate change, introduced species, larva, ocean warming, southern migration, thermal tolerance

  • Coro G, Magliozzi C, Vanden Berghe E, Bailly N, Ellenbroek A, Pagano P (2016)

    Estimating absence locations of marine species from data of scientific surveys in OBIS

    Ecological Modelling 323 61-76.

    Estimating absence locations of a species is important in conservation biology and conservation planning. For instance, using reliable absence as much as presence information, species distribution models can enhance their performance and produce more accurate predictions of the distribution of a species. Unfortunately, estimating reliable absence locations is difficult and often requires a deep knowledge of the species’ distribution and of its abiotic and biotic environmental preferences and tolerance. In this paper, we propose a methodology to reconstruct reliable absence information from presence-only information, and the conditions that those presence-only data have to meet to make this possible. Large species occurrence data collections (otherwise called occurrence datasets) contain high quality and expert-reviewed species observation records from scientific surveys. These surveys can be used to retrieve species presence locations, but they also record places where the species in their target list were not observed. Although these absences could be simply due to sampling variation, it is possible to intersect many of these reports to estimate true absence locations, i.e. those due to habitat unsuitability or geographical hindrances. In this paper, we present a method to generate reliable absence locations of this type for marine species, using scientific surveys reports contained in the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), an authoritative species occurrence dataset. Our method spatially aggregates information from surveys focussing on the same target species. It detects absence locations for a given species as those locations in which repeated surveys (that included the species of interest in their target list) reported information only on other species. We qualitatively demonstrate the reliability of our method using distribution records of the Atlantic cod as a case study. Additionally, we quantitatively estimate its performance using another authoritative large species occurrence dataset, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). We also demonstrate that our approach has higher accuracy and presents complementary behaviour with respect to another method using environmental envelopes. Our process can support species distribution models (as well as other types of models, e.g. climate change models) by providing reliable data to presence/absence approaches. It can manage regional as well as global scale scenarios and runs within a collaborative e-Infrastructure (D4Science) that publishes it as-a-Service, allowing biologists to reproduce, repeat and share experimental results.

    Keywords: Absence locations, Ecological niche modelling, Marine biodiversity, Occurrence data, Scientific surveys, Species distribution maps

  • Deblauwe V, Droissart V, Bose R, Sonké B, Blach-Overgaard A, Svenning J et al. (2016)

    Remotely sensed temperature and precipitation data improve species distribution modelling in the tropics

    Global Ecology and Biogeography.

    Aim Species distribution modelling typically relies completely or partially on climatic variables as predictors, overlooking the fact that these are themselves predictions with associated uncertainties. This is particularly critical when such predictors are interpolated between sparse station data, such as in the tropics. The goal of this study is to provide a new set of satellite-based climatic predictor data and to evaluate its potential to improve modelled species–climate associations and transferability to novel geographical regions. Location Rain forests areas of Central Africa, the Western Ghats of India and South America. Methods We compared models calibrated on the widely used WorldClim station-interpolated climatic data with models where either temperature or precipitation data from WorldClim were replaced by data from CRU, MODIS, TRMM and CHIRPS. Each predictor set was used to model 451 plant species distributions. To test for chance associations, we devised a null model with which to compare the accuracy metric obtained for every species. Results Fewer than half of the studied rain forest species distributions matched the climatic pattern better than did random distributions. The inclusion of MODIS temperature and CHIRPS precipitation estimates derived from remote sensing each allowed for a better than random fit for respectively 40% and 22% more species than models calibrated on WorldClim. Furthermore, their inclusion was positively related to a better transferability of models to novel regions. Main conclusions We provide a newly assembled dataset of ecologically meaningful variables derived from MODIS and CHIRPS for download, and provide a basis for choosing among the plethora of available climate datasets. We emphasize the need to consider the method used in the production of climate data when working on a region with sparse meteorological station data. In this context, remote sensing data should be the preferred choice, particularly when model transferability to novel climates or inferences on causality are invoked.

    Keywords: Association test, CHIRPS, GLM, MODIS, MaxEnt, TRMM, WorldClim, ecological niche model, habitat suitability, null model

  • Gilles D, Zaiss R, Blach-Overgaard A, Catarino L, Damen T, Deblauwe V et al. (2016)

    RAINBIO: a mega-database of tropical African vascular plants distributions

    PhytoKeys 74 1-18.

    Dear Wycliffe, We have now evaluated the early progress reports and updates you submitted via email as part of the reporting process for BID-AF2015-0035-NAC. We are pleased to note your efforts to improve engagement with your project’s national partners. We believe that a strong engagement of all project partners is essential to a successful project and would like to encourage you to continue fostering communication among Kenya Wildlife Service, Nature Kenya and National Museums of Kenya. Please do not hesitate to raise any concerns with us if you feel that you encounter unexpected difficulties in this area. Following the assessment of your reports, we are happy to inform you that your narrative and financial reports have now been pre-approved by GBIF Secretariat. We have made some edits to the formatting of the narrative report as the template seemed to have caused problems in the version we received – and it was missing the automatic table of contents (see reformatted version attached). Once you have checked this through, you can now send the original signed copies of these reports to GBIF Secretariat by courier to: GBIF Secretariat Universitetsparken 15 DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø DENMARK Please note that, as described in the contract under “Schedule of payments”, it is a requirement to have spent minimum 80% of previous BID payments received, before qualifying for further installments. In your submitted Early Progress Financial Reports we have noted that only 50% have been spent, thus no further installments will be made at this time. However, it is still mandatory to send us original signed copies of the pre-approved narrative and financial reports by courier already now to finalize the early progress reporting process. We ask you to submit an updated Financial report (Financial report by Activity & Expense Types and the Expense Summary Page), at such a time when minimum 80% of already received BID payments have been spent. The format of the Financial Reports should be the same as the Early Progress Financial Reports and can be accepted in electronic format. When you reach this stage, we would invite you to send a short update on progress made in the implementation of your project’s activities, particularly after your further meetings with the project partners. We would also like to remind you of the possibility to request support from the BID mentors by writing to the BID community mailing list at You are also very welcome to contact us at to request assistance to identify possible mentors based on identified capacity needs. We would recommend contacting the mailing list early to plan any assistance that could be required for your next workshop. With Best Regards

    Keywords: Herbarium specimens, biodiversity assessmen, cultivated species, digitization, georeferencing, habit, native species, taxonomic backbone, tropical forests

  • Greve M, Lykke A, Fagg C, Gereau R, Lewis G, Marchant R et al. (2016)

    Realising the potential of herbarium records for conservation biology

    South African Journal of Botany 105 317-323.

    One of the major challenges in ecosystem conservation is obtaining baseline data, particularly for regions that have been poorly inventoried, such as regions of the African continent. Here we use a database of African herbarium records and examples from the literature to show that, although herbarium records have traditionally been collected to build botanical reference “libraries” for taxonomic and inventory purposes, they provide valuable and useful information regarding species, their distribution in time and space, their traits, phenological characteristics, associated species and their physical environment. These data have the potential to provide invaluable information to feed into evidence-based conservation decisions.

    Keywords: Biological collections, Database, Historical records, Label information, Long-term data collections, Trait

  • Janssens S, Vandelook F, De Langhe E, Verstraete B, Smets E, Vandenhouwe I et al. (2016)

    Evolutionary dynamics and biogeography of Musaceae reveal a correlation between the diversification of the banana family and the geological and climatic history of Southeast Asia.

    The New phytologist.

    Tropical Southeast Asia, which harbors most of the Musaceae biodiversity, is one of the most species-rich regions in the world. Its high degree of endemism is shaped by the region's tectonic and climatic history, with large differences between northern Indo-Burma and the Malayan Archipelago. Here, we aim to find a link between the diversification and biogeography of Musaceae and geological history of the Southeast Asian subcontinent. The Musaceae family (including five Ensete, 45 Musa and one Musella species) was dated using a large phylogenetic framework encompassing 163 species from all Zingiberales families. Evolutionary patterns within Musaceae were inferred using ancestral area reconstruction and diversification rate analyses. All three Musaceae genera - Ensete, Musa and Musella - originated in northern Indo-Burma during the early Eocene. Musa species dispersed from 'northwest to southeast' into Southeast Asia with only few back-dispersals towards northern Indo-Burma. Musaceae colonization events of the Malayan Archipelago subcontinent are clearly linked to the geological and climatic history of the region. Musa species were only able to colonize the region east of Wallace's line after the availability of emergent land from the late Miocene onwards.

    Keywords: Biological collections, Database, Historical records, Label information, Long-term data collections, Trait

  • Kenis M, Adriaens T, Brown P, Katsanis A, Martin G, Branquart E et al. (2016)

    Assessing the ecological risk posed by a recently established invasive alien predator: Harmonia axyridis as a case study

    BioControl 1-14.

    Invasive alien predators are a serious threat to biodiversity worldwide. However, there is no generic method for assessing which local species are most at risk following the invasion of a new predator. The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), is an alien in Europe and many other parts of the world where it affects other species of ladybirds through competition for food and intra-guild predation (IGP). Here, we describe a method developed to assess which European ladybird species are most at risk following the invasion of H. axyridis. The three components of the risk assessment are: the likelihood that the assessed native species encounters H. axyridis in the field, the hazard of competition for food, and the IGP hazard. Thirty native European ladybird species were assessed through data obtained from field observations, laboratory experiments and literature reviews. The species that are considered most at risk are found on deciduous trees, have immature stages which are highly vulnerable to IGP by H. axyridis, and are primarily aphidophagous. These species should be the focus of specific studies and possibly conservation actions. The risk assessment method proposed here could be applied to other alien predators which are considered a threat to native species through competition and predation.

    Keywords: Biological invasions, Coccinellidae, Ecological impact, Harmonia axyridis, Intra-guild predation, Risk assessment