Resources for data users

Species occurrence data users encompass a wide range of specialists interested for a variety of reasons in the recorded distribution of species over space and time. These uses may be to further scientific understanding of evolutionary processes and the development of traits and ecological patterns over millions of years; they may involve modeling of species range shifts and future risks of pest and disease outbreaks based on climate change projections; they may also inform current decisions on the design of parks and the sensitive siting of industrial or residential developments. An emerging group of users are the practitioners of ecosystem assessments that evaluate the services provided by biodiversity to human societies and advise on the consequences of different policy scenarios.

Resources of interest for biodiversity data users are displayed in the sections below on two levels:

  • key resources, essential for a general overview of the most relevant topics for data holders and

  • additional resources, for those wanting to explore those topics in more detail.

The final section displays key documentation gaps identified for data holders that will be addressed through GBIF work programme activity.

Note: the sections below show a static view last updated the 13 August 2014. 

Key resources

Those wanting to use data published through the GBIF network need to have clarity on the terms and conditions under which those data can be used. They will probably benefit from knowing examples of what kind of uses are given to data recently and in which realms. Certain knowledge about data quality concepts is certainly needed to know the nature of the data in the network, their potential and limitations.

  1. GBIF Data Use Agreement, 2001
    All use of data obtained via GBIF must be done in accordance with the GBIF data use agreement. Please read carefully this document and make sure that you agree with it before accessing any data via GBIF.
  2. Presentation Promoting Data Use I Introduction, 2013
    This presentation summarizes many of the most common uses of Biodiversity Data, explaining a few of them in greater detail. A good introduction if you are looking for inspiration!
  3. Presentation Promoting Data Use II Use in Scientific and Policy Areas, 2013
    This presentation presents in detail three key use cases for biodiversity data. Consider studying it if you would like to see which are the methodologies that some groups are currently using to analyze data and influence policy.
  4. Video Launch of the new GBIF portal, 2013 is the main gateway to access the biodiversity data published through the GBIF network. Get acquainted with the main characteristics of the new version launched in 2013 through this video.
  5. Newsroom, 2013
    The GBIF Newsroom in includes a section about ‘featured data uses’ that includes information about key studies and articles where data obtained via GBIF has played a critical role. It is a good place to find updates on the latest use trends!
  6. Global data trends
    This sections presents a summary of the current content being shared through the GBIF Network. It can be used to get an impression on areas such as data coverage or data quality.
  7. GBIF's annual Science Review
    The annual Science Review includes relevant uses of GBIF-mediated data in peer-reviewed scientific research during a given year, providing both an overview of use-case highlights and an annual citation bibliography in a single place.
  8. Video DQ01 Short introduction to biodiversity data quality and fitness-for-use, 2012
    This short video introduces many of the key concepts to take into account around quality when working with biodiversity data. Check the GBIF Vimeo channel for the rest of the videos in the same series.
  9. Uses of Primary Species-Occurrence Data, 2005 *
    This comprehensive guide provides information about many potential uses that can be given to primary biodiversity data such as those published through GBIF. An irreplaceble reference for anyone planning to use such kind of data.
    Available in Chinese, English, French and Korean.
  10. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Section, 2014
    This FAQ includes a section specifically addressed to data users where their questions are answered in a concise, practical way.

The resources marked with an asterisk (*) treat the subjects in depth and are thus substantially longer documents. 

Additional resources

Those users interested in doing more complex analysis will benefit from a greater knowledge about data quality and how to increase it, so more data can be put into use. Information about the different techniques and tools used by others may inspire them to focus their work in different ways.

  1. Data citation in the electronic environment, 2008 *
    Citation is a key element in the way the GBIF network works. Data publishers make their datasets available freely and openly and they expect to be properly cited in return. This document discusses how to do it properly.
  2. Principles of Data Quality, 2005 *
    This is a detailed reference guide on the different aspects to take into account about quality aspects when working with biodiversity data. If you want to perform data quality assessment or improving routines before using biodiversity data, you should consider consulting this guide.
    Resource available in Chinese, English , French and Korean.
  3. Principles and Methods of Data Cleaning - Primary Species and Species-Occurrence Data, 2005*
    This practical guide explains different approaches to address data quality improvement procedures. Consider checking it if you plan to perform such operations over biodiversity datasets as part of your work.
    Resource available in Chinese, EnglishFrench and Korean.
  4. Training Manual on Spatial Analysis of Plant Diversity and Distribution, 2010 *
    This guide can help those who are planning to use ecological niche modelling techniques to analyze data. The examples focus on plant data but many of the techniques can be applied to other kinds of organisms.
    Resource available in English, French and Spanish.
  5. Using ModestR to download import and clean species distribution records, 2014
    This article describes how the ModestR software can be used to automate the tasks of downloading and checking the quality of data published using the GBIF network.
  6. Video Tutorial on how to retrieve data from the GBIF network using GenGIS
    The GenGIS software allows to download data from the GBIF network directly from its interface, and to perform analysis and data checks directly from its interface. Watch this video to see the different steps needed to do this.
  7. Best practice guide for compiling, maintaining and disseminating national species checklists, 2012
    One of the many uses that GBIF-mediated data can have is the production of draft national checklists. This document describes the experience of a national team to use primary biodiversity data in this context.
  8. Biodiversity Informatics Training website, 2012
    This website includes videos recorded from many courses on biodiversity informatics related topics held around the world. Many of them are relevant for biodiversity data users.

The resources marked with an asterisk (*) treat the subjects in depth and are thus substantially longer documents. 

Documentation gaps

The resources listed below were identified as critical documentation gaps which are relevant for biodiversity data users as part of the documentation gaps analysis mentioned at the beginning of this page. Please follow the instructions in the document if you would like to join the common effort of filling these gaps.

  1. Basic introduction to the management and curation of biodiversity data
    This text will discuss the potential and limitations of biodiversity data and how how to manage, transform and improve them.
    This documentation is required at least in English, French and Spanish.
  2. Short guide on how to cite GBIF and GBIF-mediated data usage
    A very short reference guide that helps users to comply with citation requirements before publishing work derived from GBIF-mediated data. From 2015 on, it should include the use of DOIs.
    This documentation is required at least in English, French and Spanish.
  3. Improved support for users of the data section of
    The website has expanded in the  functionality offered to its users. This resource will introduce new users to the various ways to use the site (format still to be decided).
    This documentation is required at least in English, French and Spanish.
  4. Inventory of the different ways of accessing GBIF mediated data
    The GBIF API opens countless possibilities for tools and data portals to interact and access data published via GBIF. This document aims to describe the main options available.
    This documentation is required at least in English.
  5. Overview of data analysis techniques available
    This document aims to be an inventory of the different techniques used to analyse biodiversity data, independently of the thematic area targeted.
    This documentation is required at least in English.
  6. Guide on how to address social barriers to data use
    In the world of potential data users, there is still many misconceptions about the nature and use potential of biodiversity data. This guide will try to set realistic expectations on this area.
    This documentation is required at least in English.
  7. Summary of uses of GBIF and GBIF-mediated data in policy
    This document should summarize generic ways of using GBIF to address policy issues (including use cases), without going into detail on the technical aspects of such uses.
    This documentation is required at least in English.