1 Import GBIF data using RGBIF

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international open data infrastructure that allows anyone, anywhere to access data about all types of life on Earth, shared across national boundaries via the Internet. It offers free and open access to a tremendeous amount of biodiversity data. As of the date of writing, the GBIF provides access to 1,645,121,552 occurrence records from 55,482 datasets. The data is collected over three centuries of natural history exploration and including current observations from citizen scientists, researchers and automated monitoring programs. The data is widely used, with over 5000 peer-reviewed papers using the data.

There are various ways to import GBIF data, including directly from the website as comma delimited file (csv), using the GBIF API and for example using R or Python packages. On the GBIF website you’ll find long list of tools that work with GBIF data.

This tutorial shows how you can download GBIF data using R, and store the resulting data in a GRASS GIS database or save the data as geopackage. One can use GRASS GIS1 and R2 in conjunction in two different ways. One is to use R within a GRASS GIS session. This means that we start R (or RStudio) from the GRASS GIS command line. The other option is to use GRASS GIS within a R session. This means we connect to a GRASS GIS location/mapset from within R (or RStudio). For more details, see the GRASS GIS Wiki. The first approach is arguably the easiest, and is what we will be using below. If you just want to download and use the data in R, you can simply skip the parts about GRASS GIS.