Analysing the content of the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System (EurOBIS): available data, limitations, prospects and a look at the future
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- Vandepitte, L., Hernandez, F., Claus, S. et al. Hydrobiologia (2011) 667: 1. doi:10.1007/s10750-011-0656-x
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The European Ocean Biogeographic Information System—EurOBIS—is an integrated data system developed by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) for the EU Network of Excellence “Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning” (MarBEF) in 2004. Its principle aims are to centralise the largely scattered biogeographical data on marine species collected by European institutions and to make these quality-controlled data freely available and easily accessible. It is in essence a distributed system in which individual datasets go through a series of quality control procedures before they are integrated into one large consolidated database. EurOBIS is freely available online at www.eurobis.org, where marine biogeographical data—with a focus on taxonomy, temporal and spatial distribution—can be consulted and downloaded for analyses. Over the last 6 years, EurOBIS has collected 228 datasets contributed by more than 75 institutes, representing over 13.6 million distribution records of which almost 12.5 million records are species level identifications. It is now the largest online searchable public source of European marine biological data, holding biogeographical information on 26,801 species and 9,221 genera. EurOBIS acts as the European node of OBIS, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System of the Census of Marine Life (CoML). EurOBIS shares its data with OBIS, which in its turn shares its content with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This article describes the status of the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System, identifies data gaps, possible applications, uses and limitations. It also formulates a strategy for the growth and improvement of the system and wants to appeal for more contributions.