What can I learn from GBIF that will be useful for my inaturalist observations and IDs?

I read the “About” section on the GBIF.org website, but I don’t understand how it might be useful to someone who is not already active in GBIF. Suggestions?

i’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at in this question. my understanding is that GBIF is an aggregator. so it collects observations from iNaturalist and other data sources and makes them available together in a single place. so if you’re a birder, for example, you could look at GBIF to see both (research grade) iNaturalist + eBird observations together in one spot, which might be useful if you’re just monitoring bird migrations or something like that. the only other reason that i can think of to use GBIF is that their maps are better for some use cases.

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Yeah, GBIF is a database. The website itself isn’t made for most people to “use” it like you would iNat. Rather, you (or researchers) download data from it and use those data to explore questions you have, create maps, etc.

Well the most obvious thing you can learn is the ranges of species. Because GBIF aggregates data from so many places, it may have the best documentation on the ranges of species available. Of course, there is the occasional error in the GBIF data too, but it is generally good. If you cross reference your presumed ID with that range it can stop you making bad guesses.

Note you don’t even need to go to the GBIF page to see that range. It is not turned on by default, but the button in the top right of the map that appears on an iNat taxa page can load all GBIF records.


I will look at the GBIF layer in the map if I am critiquing my observation or someone else’s in a location where there does not seem to be any other iNaturalist observations - say, beyond a checklist area. Sometimes there are GBIF occurences in these areas of vagrants or un-listed populations. If this is the case then I feel more assured that yes indeed, said species may well occur here and the observstion/species match is more likely. It is just one more layer to help with the diagnosis.