GBIF - connection to iNaturalist?

Browsing thru my observations, I scrolled down a page I’d just had re-confirmed on American Alligator. Down toward the botton of the page - adjacent to the section Data Quality Assessment - I saw
and came across a logo and a the phrase “This observation is featured on 1 site” GBIF. I clicked on the item and brought up a page with my image, date, location, etc. on a site called Global Biodiversity Information Facility. I’d never heard of this site before. Checking some other of my iNaturalist “research grade” observations, I saw that many - if not most - were included on this GBIF data base. I attempted to query GBIF to see if I could get a listing of my observations included in their data, but was unable to figure a way to do so. I’ve no objection to their being included on a separate data base, but wondered what the connection - if any - is with iNaturalist.

1 Like

GBIF is a well-respected and highly cited repository for organism occurrence data. Many museums have information that feeds into GBIF, as well as citizen science projects like iNat and eBird. The relationship is that iNat shares its data with GBIF through weekly automatic exports of Research Grade observations that meet licensing requirements.

More info here and here.

You can see your GBIF records here:


I usually use institution_code=inaturalist in my GBIF search just to make sure I’m only getting my iNaturalist records.


Sure, but it’s not relevant in this particular case as he only has iNat records.


Also observations are translated to GBIF only if they have a license that allows that.


I was told by my local herbarium manager that GBIF is a portal that brings together millions of databases and natural history collections across the globe. Scientists use it to ask more powerful scientific questions.

Some people have been upset to discover some of their observation photos in GBIF and EOL. The license setting you choose in iNaturalist will determine if your observations can be included under the Creative Commons licenses. They do properly cite the observations - hurrah for research!


While we’re discussing this, I’ll mention a problem I’ve seen with the GBIF exports: it doesn’t know how to parse iNat’s “species complex” level, so research grade observations at that level end up lumped in with the nominate species even though that’s not actually true. We really shouldn’t be polluting their data stream like this. Either stop exporting species complex observations when they’re research grade, or make sure there’s an appropriate umbrella taxon set up to receive them.

For example, on iNat this observation is clearly called “Laphria sericea complex”, which means it’s one of three species in that group that you can only tell apart with genitalia.

But on the GBIF export, the species complex part has been stripped off and it shows up as just “Laphria sericea”, same as ones that have had their genitalia actually verified in a museum. This is not an honest interpretation of the “specimen”.


There’s an open bug report at GBIF here:


I clicked on the GBIF link you listed and it does indeed give me a listing of all my observations in the GBIF data base! Thanks for the tip.


There is a bit of a discussion about this in the comments here: where one user notes that their observations (CC-BY license) aren’t making it over to GBIF. Any thoughts on what is happening?

For the example therein, the observation license was just updated in the last week, so those observations should be included in the next archive we make.

1 Like

Great, x fingers this resolves it!

1 Like

A question came up over at the listserv for Odonata Central (an odonate photo record database). A number of damselfly records from Mexico on iNat were incorrectly IDed to species and reached Research Grade and thus were pulled into the GBIF database. Odonata Central (OC) also pulls in GBIF records of odonates to include them in their database. One of the OC reviewers has gone into iNat to correct the erroneous RG records, but was wondering if that correction is subsequently carried forward to GBIF. At the present, the erroneous records are still showing up on OC.

Will corrected RG records on iNat eventually also be corrected on GBIF? If so, any idea how often this update might be done?

They’ll be corrected the next time GBIF ingests data.
“iNaturalist generates data for GBIF once a week, and we believe they import it once a week.”


Response in a different thread to the same question from a GBIF employee:


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.