The case for a Russian national biodiversity portal

Vast biodiversity data resources exist in Russia, but only few are digitized and available online

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 139,909 species occurrences
Saperda carcharias, a longhorn beetle

Saperda carcharias, a longhorn beetle observed by Andrey Danilin near Drozhzhino, Moscow region. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Despite being the largest country in the world and playing a key role in Arctic ecosystem conservation, Russia remains largely fragmented and digitally inaccessible when it comes to biodiversity data. More than 12,500 species of vascular plants, 1,500 vertebrates, and 100,000 invertebrates make up the Russian biodiversity, yet GBIF counts less than 0.1 occurrence per square kilometre of Russian territory.

This paper reviews existing biodiversity information systems in Russia across species occurrences, taxonomy and digital collections. Although some systems are in place, the authors point to several problems, including a lack of willingness among researchers to share data, database platforms without functionality to allow internet access, spatial information presented as images rather than coordinates, and, systems not being updated and finally becoming unavailable as projects are completed.

Russian scientists have considerable experience in biodiversity informatics, yet lack a national platform for aggregating and sharing data. The authors conclude that formal participation in GBIF with the creation of a national node and portal is necessary to increase data mobilization and contribution to national and international biodiversity science.

Ivanova NV and Shashkov MP (2016) Biodiversity Databases in Russia: Towards a National Portal. Arctic Science. Canadian Science Publishing. Available at: