Users of GBIF.org and the GBIF API can now search and filter species occurrence records based on their global extinction risk as classified by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List). The release of this improvement marks an important milestone under the 2019 memorandum of cooperation outlining areas of collaboration and common interest between GBIF and International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Red List is the world's most comprehensive source of information on the global extinction risks to individual animal, fungus and plant species. Given its role as an indicator of the health of the world's biodiversity and a tool for conservation action and policy change, the Red List is indispensable to any inventory of the world's scientific names.
IUCN has enabled the new search feature by providing GBIF access to prepare, process and publish updated versions of a taxonomic checklist version of the Red List. Having access to the latest Red List updates ensures that all assessed taxa appear in the GBIF Backbone Taxonomy.
"The release of the new Red List Category filter offers a clear demonstration of the value of information exchange between IUCN and GBIF," said Craig Hilton-Taylor, Head of the Red List Unit at IUCN. "Giving users of open data on biodiversity the ability to search for and filter records based on extinction risk offers a straightforward way of contributing more on-the-ground evidence into conservation decision-making and assessment processes."
Whether they use GBIF.org or the GBIF API, data users can filter and download occurrence records for any species or subspecies globally assessed by IUCN and classified into any Red List Category:
- Not Evaluated (NE)
- Data Deficient (DD)
- Least Concern (LC)
- Near Threatened (NT)
- Vulnerable (VU)
- Endangered (EN)
- Critically Endangered (CR)
- Extinct (EX)
- Extinct in the Wild (EW)
GBIF informatics staff have processed the global species occurrence index against the Red List to support the Not Evaluated (NE) facet. This filter displays records for all formally described species of animals, plants and fungi within the backbone taxonomy that have not yet reviewed for the Red List, providing the most complete view of assessment gaps at global levels (excluding fossils and micro-organisms, which are ineligible for assessment).
"The release of the global Red List filter simplifies the process of using a species' conservation status to access and apply open data in scientific research and conservation planning," said Andrew Rodrigues, programme officer for engagement and participation at the GBIF Secretariat. "This additional functionality also highlights the key role that organizations publishing data through the GBIF network play in feeding conservation-relevant data into decision-making processes."
The Red List filter improves the visibility of the latest species-level information relating to extinction risk for GBIF data users and offers just one example of how improved data and information exchange between the IUCN and GBIF networks adds value to their respective products and services. Species pages on GBIF.org already display the Red List status bar for all assessed species (as in this example), and GBIF has continued its support of the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group (first announced in 2018) by providing access to nearly 300 individual national and island checklists from the Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species (GRIIS).
Meanwhile, experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission have frequently consulted GBIF-mediated data while assessing and building knowledge on the conservation status of species. More than 15,000 individual Red List assessments have previously referenced GBIF; of those, 440 provide DOI-based citations that ensure the persistence, transparency and reproducibility of the experts' analyses (another explicit aim of the cooperation agreement between IUCN and GBIF). GBIF's training course on biodiversity data use likewise provide instruction in this common use case of preparing fit-for-purpose data and applying IUCN protocols in Red List-related activities.
The release of IUCN Red List occurrence search embodies the growing alignment between the two networks, which is also reflected in IUCN members' recently approval of an urgent call to share and use primary biodiversity in situ data through the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Other areas outlined for future collaboration in the GBIF-IUCN MOC include the Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT), Key Biodiversity Areas and the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Species Monitoring Specialist Group.