Terrestrial and freshwater data archeology | Lifewatch regional portal

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Terrestrial and freshwater data archeology

The Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) collects, manages, and uses a wealth of biodiversity data. One of its strategic aims is to make this research data publicly available. In 2011, the INBO published its first open dataset on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and in 2015 it adopted an open data policy as one of the first research institutes in Flanders. Through these efforts, for which the LifeWatch team at the INBO is an important contributor and catalyst, the INBO has become one of the major publishers and promoters of open biodiversity data.

Cooperation agreement with Natuurpunt

Natuurpunt is the largest nature association in Flanders. Through its platform Waarnemingen.be it collects almost 30 million species observations recorded by volunteers and citizen scientists. Scientific use of these data are typically managed via contract deals and public use is restricted. In 2014, LifeWatch INBO has negotiated a cooperation agreement with Natuurpunt to publish two substantial datasets per year as open data and to allow the INBO continued access to the raw occurrences data for scientific use. The two datasets – which focus on major taxonomic groups and are selected by a steering committee – are standardized, published under a Creative Commons Zero waiver, and registered with GBIF in the same way we publish occurrence datasets at the INBO. The geographic precision of the data is rounded, but allows public and scientific use on a provincial, national, and European scale. Through this agreement, which was signed in December 2014, this important source of previously inaccessible citizen science data is becoming available to everyone, including the LifeWatch infrastructure users.



Species occurrence datasets (observations, tracking data), which represent the majority of the datasets at the INBO, are published through their GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (INBO IPT). The data are formatted in the international Darwin Core Archive standard, using Darwin Core term definitions for fields and the Ecological Metadata Language (EML) for the dataset metadata.

The datasets are registered with GBIF, which allow these to be discovered and used by a wider international audience through http://www.gbif.org. GBIF has also developed robust web services to query and access the data, metadata, taxonomic and geographic information (data, metadata, taxa, geospatial), which can be used for central LifeWatch developments.

The INBO continues to improve the data and metadata of existing datasets, for which they track issues and progress openly on GitHub.

Species occurrence datasets (re)published through the INBO IPT:




  • Update of some existing datasets with new data, most notably the gull tracking dataset, which now contains over 2.4 million occurrences. For this dataset, also a peer reviewed data paper was published in ZooKeys (Stienen, E.W.M.; Desmet, P.; Aelterman, B.; Courtens, W.; Feys, S.; Vanermen, N.; Verstraete, H.; Van de walle, M.; Deneudt, K.; Hernandez, F.; Houthoofdt, R.; Vanhoorne, B.; Bouten, W.; Buijs, R.J.; Kavelaars, M.M.; Müller, W.; Herman, D.; Matheve, H.; Sotillo, A.; Lens, L. (2016). GPS tracking data of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls breeding at the southern North Sea coast. ZooKeys 555: 115-124. doi: http://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.555.6173)