Report of the Task Group on GBIF Data Fitness for Use in Agrobiodiversity

The Task Group on Data Fitness for Use in Agrobiodiversity was established by the GBIF Secretariat and Bioversity International to help improve the fit of data related to agrobiodiversity to the variety of important uses required and requested by the community of research and policy.

The task group has been looking at the key actions for creating interoperability of data on ex situ, in situ and on-farm conservation of agrobiodiversity, with a focus on plants. A survey and interviews of selected experts were conducted to collect the ABD community feedback on GBIF mediated data.

The Secretariat invites the expert community to share their specific use cases and experiences in working with GBIF-mediated data using the template available on this page. Completed templates may be sent to


The recommendations of the Task Group, included in this report, cover the whole data flow, from publishing to the use with a focus on agrobiodiversity, also considering the role of the nodes in data mobilization and the promotion and training actions.

Key recommendations are below.

  1. The Multi Crop Passport Data (MCPD) is the data exchange standard for describing crop samples held in genebanks. GBIF must index data attributes described with the MCPD terms to stimulate the use of genebank data and other ABD data published in GBIF.
  2. A more formal agrobiodiversity community governance policy is needed for the germplasm extension. The Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) could be a suitable platform for implementation of a formal agrobiodiversity community governance policy for the Darwin Core germplasm extension. Darwin Core germplasm extension should be maintained by a TDWG task group to reach a stable standard for germplasm accessions conserved in genebanks (ex situ conservation), and should be expanded to address needs of data on the in situ and on-farm conservation.
  3. Authoritative checklists and classification of cultivars and landraces, including vernacular names, should be added to GBIF when developed and validated by an international expert group and community.
  4. GBIF should seek to support the integration of popular data cleaning tools such as GEOLocate, Google refine, and workflow services from BioVEL and other Galaxy or Taverna compliant protocols with data published to the GBIF portal.
  5. GBIF should improve routines for preliminary quality assessment of data records and datasets, giving levels of confidence to individual data record or datasets and highlight issues to data suppliers.
  6. GBIF should develop or adapt existing tools to: (a) identify quality improvement thresholds based on the decided weighting of scores such as unreliable coordinates; identify issues with taxon names such as completeness of name-strings and up-to-date nomenclature and whether names are backed by publication reference, sequence, or expert; (b) check the completeness of the data (e.g. index of passport data completeness) through possibly two scores: ‘weighted completeness’ and ‘weighted issues’; (c) provide the percentage of records with actual data reported for each attribute (data column), possibly with two scores: ‘weighted completeness’ and ‘weighted issues’.
  7. Expand the data attributes made available for search from the GBIF portal. Include the most important agrobiodiversity terms from the MCPD and the corresponding Darwin Core germplasm extension as searchable information attributes.
  8. Resources for the ABD community like the global crop wild relative species checklist and the Bioversity Collecting Mission database must be published to the GBIF portal registry of checklists and integrate this checklist to the GBIF taxon backbone.
  9. Stimulate the digitization of relevant collections related to agrobiodiversity, and stimulate the publishing of already digitized collections, by providing small­-grants through competitive calls.
  10. Train the GBIF Nodes in the mobilization of relevant data types on the value of CWRs, and mobilization of data on crop wild relatives and on species traits useful for crop improvement and for landscape restoration.




Elizabeth Arnaud, Bioversity International, France - Task Group Chair
Nora Patricia Castañeda-Álvarez, CIAT, Colombia and University of Birmingham, UK
Jean Ganglo Cossi, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
Dag Endresen, GBIF Norway, University of Oslo, Norway
Ebrahim Jahanshiri, Crops for the Future, Malaysia
Yves Vigouroux, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), France



GBIF Secretariat