The European Ocean Biogeographic Information System – EurOBIS – is an online marine biogeographic database compiling data on all living marine creatures. The principle aims of EurOBIS are to centralize the largely scattered biogeographic data on marine species collected by European institutions and to make these data freely available and easily accessible. All data go through a number of quality control procedures before they are made available online [see standards], assuring a minimum level of quality necessary to put the data to good use.
The available data are either collected within European marine waters or by European researchers and institutes outside Europe [see scope]. The database focuses on taxonomy and distribution records in space and time; all data can be searched and visualised through a set of online mapping tools. All data are freely available online and easily accessible, without requiring a login or password.
The regional approach and thematic focus of EurOBIS - the European marine waters - gives the system a number of advantages compared to its umbrella systems OBIS and GBIF. As EurOBIS is a European system, it can apply for (co-)financing on the European level. National, regional or European funding agencies can thus help cofinance the development and maintenance of the EurOBIS data system.
Due to the specific scope of EurOBIS, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) - the host institute of EurOBIS - can focus on the continuous gathering of additional data and information which cannot be captured in the data systems of e.g. OBIS and GBIF. The Flanders Marine Institute also invests in the development of relevant analysis tools and applications that can run on the EurOBIS data system.
The existence, continuation and growth of EurOBIS is only possible by contributions of a whole range of data providers from all over Europe. If you would be interested in contributing data, please go to ‘how to contribute?’.
EurOBIS was developed in 2004 and received funding from the MarBEF Network of Excellence ‘Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning’ which was carried out by the Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems Programme of the European community’s Sixth Framework Programme until 2009.
After 2009, financial contributions from EMODnet (2009-2012) were used by EurOBIS to fund specific mini data grant programmes. Researchers could apply for small data grants, to be used to finance the digitization of datasets that can contribute to EurOBIS. These mini data grants are profitable in two ways: (1) paper data at the risk of being lost are rescued through these data digitization actions and (2) the involved institutes and researchers are becoming aware of the advantages of publishing their data online, leading to additional datasets being shared.
From 2012 onwards, EurOBIS receives financial support through LifeWatch. EurOBIS is part of the central taxonomic backbone of LifeWatch which aims at standardizing species data and integrating the distributed biodiversity data repositories and operating facilities. During LifeWatch, EurOBIS will focus on:
- A close cooperation with the European marine countries and regions for the identification and capture of marine monitoring and research data. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) will be an important partner in this, as they will specifically focus on the identification and capture of long-term national monitoring data.
- The development of a number of automated quality control procedures, which will help in the general assessment of the quality, completeness and fitness for use of the available distribution records by the user.
- Develop procedures for the management and quality control of the captured data in cooperation with the international OBIS community. These best practice procedures will help in streamlining the necessary quality control actions and the data transfer from regional nodes to the international OBIS system.
- Further develop the link between (Eur)OBIS and WoRMS, with a focus on the taxonomy. All taxa present in (Eur)OBIS which are not yet present in WoRMS will be thoroughly screened and presented to the WoRMS taxonomic editors. In the end, each taxon name in OBIS should either be present in WoRMS, or an annotation should be given why the name cannot be added to WoRMS.