European OBIS

EurOBIS is a system that allows you to for biogeographic information on marine organisms

European Biogeographic Information System

Project leaders: Jan Mees and Ward Appeltans

The European Ocean Biogeographic Information System (EurOBIS) is a distributed system that allows you to search multiple datasets simultaneously for biogeographic information on marine organisms. EurOBIS has been developed within the MarBEF network and acts as the European node of OBIS. This distributed system to present biogeographic information will integrate individual datasets on marine organisms into one large consolidated database. Through collaboration with OBIS the scientific community will have rapid free access to data on marine species distributions, and ocean environmental data. The ultimate goal of EurOBIS is to provide the end-user with a fully searchable biogeographic database, focused on three main parameters of a distribution record: taxonomy, temporal and geographical cover. Within EurOBIS the European Register for Marine Species (ERMS) will function as the taxonomic backbone and each species list from every incoming dataset will be matched with this register.

The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS)

The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (www.iobis.org) is the information component of the Census of Marine Life (CoML), a growing network of researchers in more than 45 nations engaged in a 10-year initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans - past, present, and future. OBIS is a web-based provider of global geo-referenced information on marine species and contains expert species level and habitat level databases and provide a variety of spatial query tools for visualizing relationships among species and their environment. OBIS strives to assess and integrate biological, physical, and chemical oceanographic data from multiple sources. Users of OBIS, including researchers, students, and environmental managers, will gain a dynamic view of the multi-dimensional oceanic world. You can explore this constantly expanding and developing facility through the OBIS Portal.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
OBIS acts as the marine component of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The mission of GBIF is to make the world's primary data on biodiversity freely and universally available via the Internet. OBIS will grow in concert with GBIF to become the major component for ocean biogeography and systematics. GBIF encourages, coordinates and supports the development of worldwide capacity to access the vast amount of biodiversity data held in natural history museum collections, libraries and databanks. Near term GBIF developments will focus on species and specimen-level data.


ENBI, the European contribution to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is currently developing data standards, protocols, reviewing existing datasets, IPR agreements, and compiling central taxon dictionaries (through EuroCAT). While ENBI is, in principle, an initiative that covers both terrestrial and marine biodiversity, there is a strong emphasis on terrestrial systems. MarBEF will work together with ENBI partners to provide marine biodiversity input, and complement the ENBI databases.

Technical aspects
EurOBIS makes use of a distributed database system. This leaves the maintenance and update of the databases in the hands of their owners and developers. The distributed system makes use of the Distributed Generic Information Retrieval (DiGIR) protocol (more info:digir.sourceforge.net) and is fully platform independent. It can be installed on any computer that has PHP and a web server running. The DiGIR records are available in a standardized XML format and are transferred via HTTP. As the following figure shows, multiple providers can contribute to EurOBIS, which can be accessed by multiple portals.

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