Is there a database of organisms which would contain their queriable geographic location?

I would need to perform a rather simple query, such as Animals of <Location>, where Location is some well defined geographic area such as Czech Republic or Europe.

So far I have found multiple lists on Wikipedia and other webpages, however they seem to be quite incomplete as their intersect is quite small. Moreover, I have found EOL (Encyclopedia of Life) collections but they appear to struggle the same way.

  • $\begingroup$ What taxa are you most interested in and for what purpose are going to use the data? $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Jul 24 '15 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ The data are supposed to be used for online tool for learning biology (in non-taxonomy matter). So for now I am mostly interested in vertebrates, but later some subselection of plants, fungus and other kingdoms will come to play. $\endgroup$ – Jan Drábek Jul 24 '15 at 9:57

This is to a large extent a question of how reliable the data in the database needs to be. Reliability (and spatial scale) will differ between datasets and between species groups within datasets, and it is difficult to give a general recommendation. I doubt that you will find a single database with good coverage over all taxonomic groups, even if it is in the form of country checklists. For the most reliable information, curated country checklists for specific taxonomic groups will probably be best, but these have to be searched for individually for each taxonomic group of interest.

As a starting point, you might want to look at the occurence data that can be found in gbif.org (The Global Biodiversity Facility). The data found there is certainly not complete, and it will be misleading for many species. However, for the current distribution of relatively well-known groups of species it will give you a good idea of their distribution. This has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis though. You can access the data in gbif using external tools, for instance using R through rgbif (there is also tools for python or other languages). At the blog recology.info you can find a tutorial on how to get a species list for a particular country using rgbif (more specifically the function density_spplist).

  • $\begingroup$ The data completeness will always be problem, however with your suggestion of GBIF and triangulation from various sources mitigate this problem to much lower level. Thanks! :) $\endgroup$ – Jan Drábek Jul 24 '15 at 10:00

The GBIF database that was suggested can give you locations of occurrences given a specific animal. But you asked for lists of animals given some location. An excellent tool to give a list of animals given a location in the world is the Map of Life. Click on "Species by Location" which gives a map of the world, and click anywhere to get lists of species that could occur there.

  • $\begingroup$ Also seems very interesting and relevant, thanks for sharing! $\endgroup$ – Jan Drábek Aug 1 '16 at 10:50

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