I was asked to prepare some statistics for the GBIF regional regional meetings being held virtually this year. This blog post is a companion for those meetings.

You can watch a video presentation of the preparation of these meetings here. The presentation of this blog post starts here.

GBIF introduced a regional framework across the GBIF Network a little more than a decade ago, with groups based on clusters of national participants. Soon after the publication of Brooks et al. (2016), GBIF adopted their structure to provide a consistent approach to regional reporting and assessment processes map.

This post will cover countries/areas with some political status and not other GBIF Affiliates and Antarctica.

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Occurrence and Species counts

  • published records - do not necessarily occur within the region, but are published by countries/areas within the region.
  • about records - must occur within the region but are not necessarily published by countries/areas within the region.

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Europe & Central Asia and North America have by far the most occurrences about/published in their regions. A large part of these records are from bird observations, which is reflected in the species-count graph below.

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Latin America & The Caribbean have the most species about their region, which makes sense from a species-richness perspective. Europe & Central Asia and North America publish the most species, which could occur in any region or in international waters.

Birds dominate occurrence totals

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Since the bird data makes it hard to see other groups, I plot the same graph below excluding birds and countries with less than 1 million total occurrences.

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A large red bar indicates that the country has many occurrences about the country that are not in the top most popular groups (birds, plants, insects, mammals, molluscs, fungi). Other records are usually fish, amphibians, or reptiles. One can search for a country (e.g. The United States) on the GBIF web interface and get a more detailed view of that country’s taxonomic breakdown.

Publishing from Latin America, Oceania, Asia, Africa generate a disproportionate number of citations

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This plot shows the number of citations generated from data published from countries within a region. This type of graph is only possible when an author cites a doi associated with a GBIF download.

Here we see that Europe & Central Asia and North America have the most total citations. However, occurrences published from Latin America & The Caribbean, Oceania, Asia, and Africa generate a disproportionate number of journal citations for every 10M records they publish.

GBIF regions gain 25-50K new species every two years

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GBIF regions gain around 25-50K new species every two years. In 2022-2024 Africa will have the same number of species (with occurrences) as North America had on GBIF in 2016-2018.

There are still many data gaps!

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A plot of raw species counts from equal-area hexagons approximately the size of Iceland. This plot excludes international waters, but includes countries EEZ areas. We see here that while Iceland has >5K species other areas within Amazonia, Eastern Europe, and Africa have suspiciously fewer, indicating likely data gaps.