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Data types

Biodiversity data comes in all shapes and sizes. Here we briefly present the major types of biodiversity data handled by SBDI.

Metadata only

The simplest way of sharing biodiversity data is to publish only a description of the data source. This is known as “resources metadata” in GBIF, or simply “metadata”. For instance, you can make it possible for others to discover data sources that are not yet digitized by sharing metadata describing them.


A checklist is simply a list of species or higher taxa. A checklist can be used to share taxonomic data. It can also be used to share information about the species occurring in a region, or sharing a particular trait. Examples of checklists include red lists, lists of invasive species, lists of marine species, or lists of species recorded from a country or region.

Occurrence data

Occurrence data provide information about the location of an individual organism in time and space. The records can be based on specimens in a collection, or on human or machine observation in the wild. The majority of biodiversity datasets belong to this type.

Sampling-event data

Data collected using standard protocols for measuring and monitoring biodiversity should be shared as sample-based data. Examples include data from research projects, monitoring programs, and inventories using standardized sampling methods.

Special data types

SBDI handles several special biodiversity data types, which are not yet fully integrated into the SBDI Bioatlas and GBIF. These include molecular biodiversity data, biotelemetry sensor data and archaeological data. For more information about these data types, see our help pages on data types.

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For more information on data types, see our help pages on data types or consult GBIF’s overview of dataset classes.