Explore OBIS

Taxon search

Common name search

Dataset search

Institute search

Country statistics

ABNJ statistics

Marine World Heritage Sites

EBSA statistics


New data loaded, 22 May 2017

On May 22, 39 new datasets, 601,362 new records, and 5,942 new marine species were added to OBIS. The current version of the OBIS database now has 48.4 million occurrences of 123,287 species. The database report with a full dataset overview is available here.

May 23, 2017 - OBISnew data load

CLOSED, Call for applications, 2-month OTGA/OBIS consultancy contract to develop OBIS training packages

IOC-UNESCO's IODE/OBIS project office is inviting applications for a consultancy contract during July-August 2017 to develop OBIS training modules in the OceanTeacher Moodle training platform.

May 05, 2017 - OBISOBIS OceanTeacher Consultancy

WEBINAR 8 MAY 2017 - Towards a coordinated global marine biodiversity observing system

Nic Bax (GOOS), Frank Muller-Karger (MBON) and Eduardo Klein (OBIS) will give an overview of GOOS-BioEco, GEOBON/MBON, and OBIS, and highlight the agreement between them to build a global marine biodiversity observing system by making use of the best available resources; share expertise; and ensure compatibility between outputs and advice from the three initiatives.


New OBIS node in Malaysia

The Institute of Oceanography and Environment (INOS) of the University of Malaysia Terengganu joined the OBIS network as the OBIS node in Malaysia.

April 13, 2017 - OBISMalaysia OBIS node

What can OBIS do for a new UN Treaty on marine biodiversity in the open ocean?

This week, the United Nations are concluding the third of four sessions to prepare for a new treaty to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (50% of our planet’s surface). Last week, several delegates strongly proposed to build on existing structures, and referred to OBIS in the context of data access and technology transfer.

April 03, 2017 - OBISPREPCOM-3 BBNJ

Healthy Oceans, Resilient Islands

Nearly 100 representatives of 35 Small Islands and Developing States (SIDS), including experts from the UN and EU, met at the IODE/OBIS project office 7-9 March 2017 to discuss SIDS specific challenges and opportunities to prepare for the 3rd Preparatory Committee Meeting on a potential new UN Treaty on Biodiversity Beyond areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). Programmes of the IOC of UNESCO including OBIS was recognized as a platform from which to build on.

March 24, 2017 - OBISSIDS BBNJ

More news...

Subscribe to our mailing list

Tweets by OBIS

Use cases

Too hot at the Equator?

species distribution OBIS data

A global analysis of the biogeography of species richness in razor clams (Solenidae) found the number of species was highest in the northern hemisphere, and dipped at the equator with a smaller peak in the southern hemisphere (Saeedi et al. 2016). Thus Chaudhary et al. (2016) reviewed previous studies and found that almost all latitudinal gradients in marine species richness peaked in the northern hemisphere, with a smaller southern hemisphere peak, and dip at the equator. This contradicted the prevailing paradigm that biodiversity peaks at the equator. A response to this paper suggested that the pattern could be affected by sampling bias (Fernandez and Marques 2016). Thus Chaudhary et al. (2017) used data from OBIS to show that indeed sampling bias influenced the gradient. However, this effect was reduced when using gamma (total species in a latitudinal band) over alpha (average species in latitude-longitude cells in a latitudinal band). Furthermore, when adjusted for sampling effort using ES50 index, the pattern was still bimodal with a dip at the equator, but the peaks in richness were equal in both hemispheres. The authors suggest that this may be because temperature is the main cause of the gradient and is getting too hot at the equator for some species.

These analyses would not have been possible without the integration of data across all taxa and geographic locations by OBIS (the full list of resources used is available in supplement info).


  • Saeedi, H, Dennis TE, Costello MJ. 2016. Bimodal latitudinal species richness and high endemicity in razor clams (Mollusca). Journal of Biogeography, online. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jbi.12903
  • Chaudhary C., Saeedi H., Costello MJ. 2016. Bimodality of latitudinal gradients in marine species richness. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31 (9), 670-676. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2016.06.001
  • Fernandez, M.O. and Marques, A.C. 2016. Diversity of diversities: a response to Chaudhary, Saeedi, and Costello. Trends Ecol. Evol. Published online November 26 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2016.10.013
  • Chaudhary C., Saeedi H., Costello MJ. 2017. Marine Species Richness Is Bimodal with Latitude: A Reply to Fernandez and Marques. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2017.02.007

Some like it warm? Warm-dwelling species have increased in response to climate change in western/central Europe

Climate Change species abundance OBIS data

The effect of climate change on population abundances are less studied than those on species ranges. This is partly because population abundance data are harder to obtain. Nonetheless, abundance is an interesting variable to study. A species may change in abundance before there are changes in its range; therefore, we may detect climate change impacts on abundance that are not apparent if we just look at range edges. The aim of our study was to study the impacts of climate change on long-term abundance trends, using a broad range of species from all environmental realms. We included time-series data from 22 different communities since the 1980s, including 6 marine datasets collected from the North Sea (phytoplankton, benthic invertebrates and fish). Our test was based on the prediction that warm-adapted species should increase (or decrease less) than cold-adapted ones within each community under climate change. We used the population data to estimate species’ population trends and compiled distribution data (e.g., from GBIF and OBIS) to estimate species’ temperature preferences. We found a mixture of population trends in almost all datasets: many species have decreased, but many species have also increased. On average, temperature preference was positively related to population trends. Although some of the cold-adapted terrestrial species had decreased, more commonly warm-adapted terrestrial species had increased. We found weaker relationships in the marine and freshwater datasets although warm-dwelling marine fish have increased. Attributing changes in species’ abundance to particular drivers is tricky because populations are exposed to many drivers at the same time. By relating population trends to species characteristics (temperature preferences), we show how it is possible to detect the particular effects of climate change on species’ abundances, and how this is useful for comparative analysis of climate change impacts across environmental realms.

Full reference: Diana E. Bowler, Christian Hof, Peter Haase, Ingrid Kröncke, Oliver Schweiger, Rita Adrian, Léon Baert, Hans-Günther Bauer, Theo Blick, Rob W. Brooker, Wouter Dekoninck, Sami Domisch, Reiner Eckmann, Frederik Hendrickx, Thomas Hickler, Stefan Klotz, Alexandra Kraberg, Ingolf Kühn, Silvia Matesanz, Angelika Meschede, Hermann Neumann, Robert O’Hara, David J. Russell, Anne F. Sell, Moritz Sonnewald, Stefan Stoll, Andrea Sundermann, Oliver Tackenberg, Michael Türkay, Fernando Valladares, Kok van Herk, Roel van Klink, Rikjan Vermeulen, Karin Voigtländer, Rüdiger Wagner, Erik Welk, Martin Wiemers, Karen H. Wiltshire & Katrin Böhning-Gaese. 2017. Cross-realm assessment of climate change impacts on species’ abundance trends. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 0067 (doi:10.1038/s41559-016-0067)

Multimodal SADs linked to spatial and taxonomic breadth

species distributions OBIS data

Species abundance distributions (SADs) depict the relative abundance of the species present in a community and describe one of the most fundamental patterns of species diversity. In our recent study, we analysed over 100 datasets covering different taxa and habitats, and showed that c. 15% of the SADs were multimodal with strong support, indicating that multimodality is a more common pattern than currently appreciated. We also showed that this pattern is more prevalent for communities encompassing broader spatial scales or greater taxonomic diversity, suggesting that multimodality increases with ecological heterogeneity. Our results emphasize the need for macroecological theories to include multimodality in the range of SADs they predict. Furthermore, differences in SAD shape across different scales provide important insights into the current endeavour of biodiversity scaling. OBIS was an invaluable source of high quality data, including metadata, from where we retrieved 25 datasets that met our selection criteria. Being able to access the data in a centralized repository was instrumental in terms of gathering appropriate data in a timely manner.

Prevalence of multimodal species abundance distributions is linked to spatial and taxonomic breadth. Laura Henriques Antão, Sean R. Connolly, Anne E. Magurran, Amadeu Soares & Maria Dornelas. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2016. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12532

More use cases...