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Indicator name 

Growth in Species Occurrence Records Accessible Through GBIF

What does this data layer represent? 

This indicator reflects the status and trend of shared biodiversity knowledge as measured through the number of species occurrence records published through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The values represent the number of records (i.e., unique instances of a species being recorded in space and time) published by institutions from each country in 2007-2019. The annual change rate for each country was calculated between the first and last recorded dates for countries with at least five years of data

What does a trend in this indicator tell us? 

The number of species occurrence records published through GBIF documents the amount of basic biodiversity data that are freely discoverable and accessible by researchers and policymakers via the internet. A greater availability of records indicates greater levels of knowledge and sharing of biodiversity information. A decline would indicate that data holders were withdrawing datasets from public access, reducing the availability of such data for research and policy, or removing duplicate records.

How was the indicator developed? 

GBIF hosts the largest biodiversity database portal on the internet, exposing data shared by hundreds of institutions worldwide. Funded by governments, through collaboration between its Participant nodes of countries and organizations, and a secretariat based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) serves as an international open data infrastructure by helping institutions to publish data according to common standards and allowing anyone, anywhere to access data about all types of life on earth, shared across national boundaries via the internet. GBIF provides a single point of access to more than 1 billion records.

GBIF produces trend charts on data mobilized by GBIF network from the end of 2007 and updates them periodically, approximately quarterly. These charts are available to view through the GBIF country pages (click the country on the map and select the 'data publishing' tab), along with much richer analytics about the data published by national institutions. It should be noted that eBird records were added to each country's dataset in 2018; please see "Limitations and caveats" for more information.

We acquired the record data for all the countries, territories and islands available to date (most recently, October 2019), smoothed the temporal trend by taking the last counts of species occurrence record in each year, and generated the GBIF biodiversity records indicator with yearly intervals for each country that has data available. For each country, the annual change rate was calculated over the time period from the first year when the species occurrence records were available to 2019.

Limitations and caveats 

This indicator was generated using the 'data publishing' trend showing the volumes of records published by institutions located in the country, i.e., information from institutions in countries where specimens or observations of species originate. GBIF generates another metric for each country, available via the 'data about' tab on the country page, showing the number of records of species occurring in a particular country, regardless of the location of the institution providing the records.

Countries began publishing data through GBIF at various times; therefore, the year when the indicator started having data varies among countries. In particular, eBird data was added to individual country records in 2018, causing a 'jump' in the trend for many countries, and becoming the first data record in several countries.  Since eBird is published from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this data was recorded as originating from the United States before the year 2018.

Where can I get more information about this indicator? 

More information about the indicators presented on the Biodiversity Indicators Dashboard is available by contacting us.

The charts of species occurrence records are available to view by country via the GBIF country pages.

The source data are available by contacting GBIF.

More information about the source data are available on the GBIF trend page and the GBIF trend FAQ page.

Data sources 

Global Biodiversity Information Facility


GBIF.org (2019) Global data trends. Available from https://www.gbif.org/analytics/global  [8 November 2019].