Introduction to the GBIF portal
The GBIF data portal is a service that provides access to millions of scientific data records that are being shared via the GBIF network. These data are generously made available through the GBIF network by a wide range of institutions and organisations from around the world. To see the range of data publishers involved, please see the list of data publishers and datasets.
The two types of data currently being shared through the GBIF Network are:
- Species occurrence records (based on specimens and observations) - information about the occurrence of species at particular times and places.
- Names and classifications of organisms - information on the names (both scientific and common) used for species and on the classification of those organisms into taxonomic hierarchies.
GBIF does not use just one taxonomic classification. And, there is not a complete electronic catalogue of all the scientific names that have ever been published available for GBIF to use. Nonetheless, classification schemes and lists of scientific names are essential to searching the occurrence data. For help in understanding how the GBIF portal addresses this problem, see Scientific names and classification in the GBIF portal.
The power of the data shared by the GBIF network is that much of it can be mapped geospatially, which in turn makes it amenable to a vast array of analyses and therefore useful to many sectors of society. Maps in the GBIF portal explains the characteristics and use of maps in portal search results.
The portal's search function is a sophisticated tool that allows a user to rapidly and efficiently look for and find data records of interest from among millions of records made available via the GBIF network. The data can be sorted along taxonomic lines, by geography, or by timeframe. Through the application of a number of possible filters, records that match combinations of geography, time and taxonomy criteria can be isolated for further study.
This tutorial does not exhaust all the possible search capabilities of the portal, but it does provide an introduction to the main features, and provides some examples for combining search parameters to zero in on records of interest.
If you are reading the hard copy or using this tutorial online, you can try the step by step instructions in (another) browser window as you go along. If you are using the CD version, the given examples will work but you will need an Internet connection to explore data through the portal itself.
Regarding the display of information in the GBIF portal, please note:
- The standard layout for the portal has been optimised for screen sizes of 1024 by 768 or larger. If you are using a smaller display, we recommend that you visit the portal Settings page and select the look-and-feel for smaller displays.
- The portal is best viewed using the most recent version of Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer.
Sections of the Tutorial
The following sections introduce the most-used kinds of searches that can be carried out by this portal:
- Finding information about a species
- Finding information about a country
- Finding information about a dataset
These different types of searches all involve, at one point or another, using the portal's Occurrence Search page, which is discussed in these sections:
These sections explain the functions and characteristics of important components of the portal's services:
More advanced users (particularly those wishing to use web services) and potential data publishers will also want to read
The following examples demonstrate some of the capabilities of the portal.
- Finding information about the Desert Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys deserti)
- Finding information on Ecuadorian plants
- Finding information about datasets that contain records from Indonesia
- Finding data publishers in Denmark
- Comparing seasonal distributions for Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
- Showing hummingbird occurrence record density by one-degree cell (Google Earth)
- Showing occurrences for all species of the genus Mimosa (Google Earth)