I hope this is the right StackExchange forum for such a question.

I'm looking for large data sets on world-wide ecology parameters, such as annual temperatures by latitude, annual rainfall, CO₂ and O₂ concentration in the atmosphere and in the oceans, data about the insect population, plants, algae, and so on.

Is there any research institute or NGO collecting such data and making it available to the public?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ What time interval are you interested in? NASA collects a whole lot of information about abiotic parameters with their satellites on a global scale. They can be explored here: earthdata.nasa.gov and here oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov (for the oceans). $\endgroup$
    – Stockfisch
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ That's a great resource, I didn't even know NASA did that. $\endgroup$
    – Tobia
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ These examples are good $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 13:33

3 Answers 3


Adding some additional database sources:

-- Climate --


The PRISM Climate Group gathers climate observations from a wide range of monitoring networks, applies sophisticated quality control measures, and develops spatial climate datasets to reveal short- and long-term climate patterns.


WorldClim is a set of global climate layers (climate grids) with a spatial resolution of about 1 square kilometer. The data can be used for mapping and spatial modeling in a GIS or with other computer programs.


NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) are responsible for hosting and providing public access to one of the most significant archives for environmental data on Earth with over 20 petabytes of comprehensive atmospheric, coastal, oceanic, and geophysical data. See NCDC (climate), NODC (Oceans), NGDC (Geophysics), and NCDDC (Coasts).

  • NCEI has a HUGE repository of datasets. Sometimes you have to dig (e.g., here).


The storm tracks database is derived from the storm data published by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). This web page provides a convenient user interface for casually browsing storm information, including location, category, and wind speed.

-- Traits --


TRY is a Plant Trait Database. More formally, it's a network of vegetation scientists headed by DIVERSITAS/IGBP, and the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, providing a global archive of curated plant traits.


This is an online resource for empirical data on how biological traits respond to environmental drivers such as temperature, light, and salinity.

-- Species --


The CPB / NCEAS Global Population Dynamics Database largest collection of animal and plant population data in the world, and brings together nearly five thousand time series in one databa

Global Invasive Species Database

The GISD is a free, online searchable source of information about species that negatively impact biodiversity. It focuses on invasive alien species that threaten native biodiversity and covers all taxonomic groups from micro-organisms to animals and plants.


Movebank is a free, online database of animal tracking data hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. They help animal tracking researchers to manage, share, protect, analyze, and archive their data.

Global Plants

Global Plants is the world’s largest database of digitized plant specimens and a locus for international scientific research and collaboration.


The Coastal & Oceanic Plankton Ecology, Production & Observation Database (COPEPOD) is an online database of plankton abundance, biomass, and composition data. COPEPOD's online zooplankton and phytoplankton data content ranges from long term ecosystem monitoring surveys to detailed process studies


COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database and COMADRE Animal Matrix Database site. Contain matrix population models of hundreds of plant and animal species

Catalogue of Life

One of the most comprehensive and authoritative global index of species currently available. It consists of a single integrated species checklist and taxonomic hierarchy. The Catalogue holds essential information on the names, relationships and distributions of over 1.6 million species.

-- Forests --

FAO Forestry Database

The FAO Forestry Department maintains an array of online databases where information covering various aspects of forestry is stored for analysis and further dissemination.


U.S. forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis database contains continuous forest census data for the United States.

European Forest Institute Database

EFI is running a number of online databases with data and information on different aspects of European forests, forestry and forest research.


The Center for Tropical Forest Science - Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO) is a global network of forest research plots and scientists dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity

-- Other --


The Nutrient Network (NutNet) is a grassroots research effort to address pervasive human impacts on ecosystems (via alteration of global nutrient budgets and changes in the abundance and identity of consumers) within a coordinated research network comprised of more than 40 grassland sites worldwide.

...Also see the Ecological Databases page on INNGE Wiki for more resources!!

  • Ex: Ecological Data Wiki: The site is a source for finding ecological datasets and quickly figuring out the best ways to use them. Just think of it as the Wikipedia of ecology data.

For climate related data you can start from Realclimate pages on data repository. For ecological data I always found less global data, but a good starting point may be the Ecological Society of America Data Registry page. An overview of repositories can be found the the Simmons University Open Access Directory.


For species occurance data the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (http://www.gbif.org/) database should be an obvious choice. It contains both historical records from museums etc and information from more recent surveys and inventories. Note that the occurrence data can both come from standardized inventories and observational records from specialists and amateurs (Citizen science data).


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