European Ocean Biogeographic Information System

By users

Can I use the downloaded data from EurOBIS for my paper, products or publications?

  • EurOBIS data are owned by the data providers and are subject to the EurOBIS Terms of Use. In short, you are free to download and use data in publications, products … under the condition you properly cite both the original data provider and EurOBIS.

    The citation of each dataset can be found in their metadata page, the proposed citation for EurOBIS in our 'about' section.

I'm conducting research on marine creatures. Can you provide me a full copy of the EurOBIS database?

  • The EurOBIS database is very large and not easily transferable. Please use the EurOBIS website to select and download the data of interest. The use of the data is subject to the EurOBIS ‘Terms of Use’.

What are the limitations of the EurOBIS data?

  • As the available data originate from a wide variety of sources (e.g. research, monitoring, literature …), one needs to have a critical mind when using these data: users should recognize that the analysis and interpretation of data requires background knowledge and expertise about marine biodiversity.

    The relevant data and information necessary for the analysis should thus be filtered out conscientiously prior to testing a hypothesis. Not all datasets have the same level of detail available and comparisons between different data (e.g. sampling methods, mesh sizes, …) are not always straightforward. Users should also be aware of possible errors, including in the use of species names, geo-referencing, data handling and mapping.

    Although EurOBIS has a number of quality control procedures available, it cannot guarantee a completely faultless database. One should always cross-check the results for possible errors and qualify the interpretation of any results accordingly.

    For a full overview of the limitations, we refer to “Analysing the content of the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System (EurOBIS): available data, limitations, prospects and a look at the future”, published in 2011 in Hydrobiologia.

What quality control systems are in place for the data?

  • Data submitted to EurOBIS go through a series of quality control procedures before being made available online. An in-depth quality control of each contributing data record on three levels (taxonomy, geography and units) improves the quality of both the individual data source and of the integrated database as all inconsistencies or doubts are communicated with the data provider.

    This not only provides a strong added value for the data custodian, but also for the user: being able to access and use high-quality data controlled on different levels can lead to more reliable analyses.

    1. Metadata: the data management team will check whether the data and the supplied metadata match and that all necessary fields of the metadata are filled in correctly and as completely as possible. If important information would be missing, a notification will be sent to the data provider asking to complete the metadata.

    2. Required data fields: if the required data fields are not properly filled, a notification will be sent to the data provider. These records will not be uploaded until the required fields are completed.

    3. Taxonomy: all taxon names are linked to the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). Unmatched taxa are sent back to the data provider for a secondary check-up. Taxa with uncertain identifications are matched to the first suitable higher taxonomic level. Originally provided taxon names are stored in the database, so one can always go back to this. When no match can be made, the taxon name is added to an 'annotation list': this list keeps track of the editors comments on why a taxon cannot be added to the World Register of Marine Species (see also the section on standards and quality control).

    4. Geography: All supplied coordinates are converted to the WSG84 coordinate system and expressed as decimal degrees. Next, these coordinates are checked for possible positioning errors which can include sampling locations on land or in different regions compared to the supplied metadata information. These errors can be due to accidental swapping of latitude and longitude or errors related to the use of the minus-sign. Any possible errors or doubts are communicated to the data provider, so the necessary corrections can be made.

    5. Depth: Two checks are performed related to depth: (1) Is the documented depth-value possible, if it is compared with the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) and (2) is the documented depth-value possible, if it is compared with the known depth range of the species?

    6. Units: if abundance and/or biomass data are supplied, the presence of the according units is checked. If these units are missing, the data cannot be put to use in comparisons between different datasets.

How can I use EurOBIS data on my own website?

  • You can link to the EurOBIS map from your own site to display species distributions.
    The syntax is ''. The name should be present in the ERMS database and the genus and subgenus names should be included for species. i.e.

    Also check out our webservices page for more options to use EurOBIS on your own website.

Can I redistribute the EurOBIS data?

  • No, users are not allowed to redistribute the EurOBIS data. Anyone can download this data but it is intended for the sole use of the organisation or individual downloading the data. In case of questions, please contact us.

Where can I download the EurOBIS logo?

By providers

What are the minimum data fields EurOBIS requires?

  • EurOBIS requires that all data be searchable by taxon name, geographical location and sampling time. The minimum data requirements for a single record are the following:

    WHAT = species identification. A scientific name (genus species) is preferred. Data at higher taxonomic levels are also allowed (genus, family, order, class …). If you use species codes, please transfer your code to taxon names prior to submission.

    WHERE = location. The latitude/longitude coordinates of the observation. The coordinates can be in decimal degrees (preferred) or degrees/minutes/seconds. Positive values for negative latitudes and longitudes are acceptable, as long as they are correctly labeled with N/S and E/W. Other formats are also acceptable as EurOBIS can convert them during data processing. If other formats are used, please mention the used coordinate system.

    WHEN = date/time. The date (year-month-day) of the observation should be provided. If time is known, this can also be added. Almost any format is acceptable.

Would you like abundance and/or biomass data?

  • EurOBIS especially welcomes abundance and/or biomass data accompanying the above list of minimum data requirements. Abundance and biomass information give an additional value to your submitted dataset. It is however very important to mention the sample size, when providing abundance data. Without the sample size, the abundance data is of no use to our users in comparisons or integration with other datasets. Together with abundance data, we also like to document the sampling equipment.

    For abundance, the OBIS scheme lists two possible fields. It’s important to make the distinction between the two and assign your values to the correct fields:

    • Individual count => refers to the # individuals stored in a museum collection

    • Observed individual count => refers to the actual count of individuals in the (sub)sample

    • Biomass

    • Sample size

How about other information?

  • EurOBIS welcomes datasets including additional information such as life-stage and sex of the observed taxa. Non-biological parameters such as the water-temperature at time of sampling and the depth at which the sample was collected can be implemented in EurOBIS.

    Data and information which does not fit into the OBIS-Schema can still be send to EurOBIS, such as e.g. sediment grain-size composition. This will not become publicly available but will be archived together with the publicly available data and can be released to other users upon request and your permission to do so.

How do I provide data to EurOBIS?

  • The easiest way is to send your data as an email attachment to us. If the data are too large, send us an email and we will provide access to our ftp-server to upload the data there.

    If the data are part of a large (monitoring) database managed at a regional or national level and constantly updated or available through your own institute website, there are two options to contribute these data to EurOBIS:

    1. IPT-toolkit: The GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) is a freely available open source web application that makes it easy to share three types of biodiversity-related information: primary taxon occurrence data, taxon checklists, and general metadata about data sources. It is designed for interoperability, using open standards such as the Darwin Core and the Ecological Metadata Language.
      More information on the IPT-toolkit can be found here.

    2. DiGIR: you can set up a distributed database system. This links your database to EurOBIS without physically having to transfer the data. If updates are made on your side, you can notify us and we will update our version of the data.
      All information on how to set up DiGIR can be found here.

What data formats are acceptable for EurOBIS?

  • Common accepted formats include the following:

    • Excel spreadsheet (.xls, .xlsx)
    • Access database (.mdb, .mdbx)
    • Comma/tab separated values (.csv)
    • Text file (.txt)

    Although one of the above data formats is preferred, it is not limited to the above.

Do I need an account to provide data to EurOBIS?

  • No, data submission can go through email, DiGIR or the IPT-toolkit.
    All information on the EurOBIS site is freely available; there are no access-restrictions.

How are my data cited? Am I notified when my data are used for publications?

  • The ‘terms of use’ ask that all data from EurOBIS used in publications/reports are cited, as well as EurOBIS. When submitting data, you also need to provide the citation information for the dataset. This citation is then listed in the metadata record of this dataset.

    EurOBIS does not keep track of the data use after downloads. When people are downloading data, they are asked to fill in a small questionnaire, stating who they are and what the purpose of the download is.

Who holds the ownership of the data?

  • As a data provider, you retain the ownership of the data. EurOBIS does not own or control or limit the use of any data or products accessible through the website.

    Accordingly, EurOBIS does not take responsibility for the quality of such data or products, or the use people may make of them.

How are my data displayed on EurOBIS?

  • Your data are listed on the data providers page. This page shows a list of all contributing datasets with a link to their metadata.

    When EurOBIS users search by species, location or time, your data will be listed as a contributing dataset and mapped together with the other data. Although mapped with other data, they still remain separately identifiable.

    All of the data available through EurOBIS are uploaded into OBIS and searchable there as well. OBIS is the parent node of EurOBIS and OBIS in its turn transfers its data to GBIF.

What is the relation between OBIS-EurOBIS-GBIF? Do I need to submit my data to OBIS and GBIF as well?

  • OBIS is the parent nod of EurOBIS. By default, all data available in EurOBIS are uploaded into OBIS. OBIS in its turn is uploaded into GBIF. These three Information Systems are interlinked, through a specific data flow.

I’m conducting analyses or preparing publications using the data I want to submit. Can you hold it until I’m finished?

  • The data will only be made available on the website after your consent. The metadata of the dataset will become publicly available, but the data will only be published after you give EurOBIS an official “go”.

    There are however many cases in which the data provider agrees to publish the presence data, but not the abundance/biomass data until after analyses or publication. These cases are easily accommodated by EurOBIS and can be adjusted after e.g. publication.

I want to know who viewed and downloaded my data. Do I get notification?

  • Each time data are downloaded, EurOBIS asks the user to fill out a small questionnaire. EurOBIS will however not notify the data provider each time (part of) their data are downloaded.

    The EurOBIS 'terms of use' does ask that – when data are used in publications or reports – EurOBIS is notified of these publications. The 'terms of use' also asks to cite each used dataset properly in each publication based on EurOBIS data, making the traceability of the use of your data partly possible.

Will EurOBIS pay me for my dataset?

  • No, EurOBIS does not buy data. EurOBIS makes data available from contributors who have agreed to publish their data through a central portal to make it more easily accessible.