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Search and retrieve data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

About the package

rgbif is an R package to search and retrieve data from GBIF. rgbif wraps R code around the GBIF API to allow you to use GBIF from R.

Install rgbif

# Or install the development version from GitHub
# remotes::install_github("ropensci/rgbif")

Get occurrence data from GBIF

Users of GBIF are usually primarily interested in getting occurrence data.

# get some occurrences using the search API
occ_search(scientificName = "Calopteryx splendens")
occ_search(scientificName = "Calopteryx splendens",country = "DK")
occ_search(scientificName = "Calopteryx splendens",country = "DK",year="1999,2005")

# look up a single occurrence record
occ_get(key=855998194) # not many reasons to do this but it exists

occ_search is a fast way to get data, but not necessarily the best. With occ_search, you are limited to 100,000 records per query. occ_download is usually a much better way to get occurrences from GBIF but requires you to have a GBIF account.

You will need to set up your GBIF account credentials before this will work. Follow the instructions here.

The following will download all occurrences of Lepus saxatilis. You can use name_backbone("Lepus saxatilis") to find the taxonKey (usageKey).

# name_backbone("Lepus saxatilis")$usageKey
gbif_download <- occ_download(pred("taxonKey", 2436775),format = "SIMPLE_CSV")


d <- occ_download_get(gbif_download) %>%

See the article Getting Occurrence Data From GBIF.

Look up taxonomic names

In order to use GBIF mediated data effectively, you will often need to match a scientific name to the GBIF Backbone Taxonomy.

The goal of name matching is to get back an unambiguous taxonomic key (a number) of the scientific name you are interested in. Having a key makes it easy for GBIF to know what you mean.

name_backbone("Calopteryx") # get best match in the GBIF backbone
name_backbone_checklist(c("Calopteryx splendens","Fake species Waller 2022")) # look up multiple names
name_suggest("Calopteryx splendens") # can be useful if you aren't sure which name to use
name_lookup("mammalia") # look outside of the GBIF backbone too

See the article Working With Taxonomic Names.

Number of occurrences

Get occurrence counts in GBIF.

occ_count() # total number in GBIF
occ_count(georeferenced=TRUE) # all with coordinates
occ_count(basisOfRecord='OBSERVATION') # with this basis of record
occ_count(taxonKey=2435099, georeferenced=TRUE) # with coordinates
occ_count(country="DK") # from Denmark 
occ_count(datasetKey='9e7ea106-0bf8-4087-bb61-dfe4f29e0f17') # from a dataset

Parse taxonomic names

Interpret and break up a scientific name into parts.

name_parse("Fake name John Waller 2022")
name_parse(c("Calopteryx splendens","Auricularia auricula-judae (Fr.) J.Schröt."))