Using data

data use

GBIF users can access the data they need in several ways, and each method generally offers data in a choice of formats.

The easiest option is to use the GBIF website, which allows searching and browsing individual records, as well as requesting data downloads in the most common formats.

For more structured access, consider using the GBIF API, either directly or using the rgbif or pygbif libraries.

Some workflows are best served using cloud computing systems, and GBIF data is available on Amazon AWS, Google GCS and Microsoft Azure for this purpose.

Data downloads

Downloads can be requested in three main formats: Simple, Darwin Core Archive and Species List. Registered users may create them using the website or through the API, or using rgbif or pygbif.

See API Downloads for creating a download directly through the API. See rgbif and pygbif for creating downloads using R or Python.

See Occurrence download formats for details on the structure of each download format, regardless of how it was created.

API usage

Complete documentation on the API is available in the API Reference section.

The GBIF API provides a programmatic way to query and publish data on It can be useful or necessary to use the API to

  • make advanced queries, not supported by the website,

  • include the results of GBIF queries in scripts, workflows or analyses, which can then be repeated reliably and automatically,

  • embed GBIF data into other websites.

It can be accessed by any programming language, from a command-line terminal interface, or in some cases using a web browser.


rgbif is a library maintained by GBIF for the R statistical programming language. See rgbif.


pygbif is a library maintained by GBIF for the Python programming language. See pygbif.

Other programming languages

Java clients for the APIs are maintained by GBIF and linked in the API reference documentation.

There are also clients for Ruby (gbifrb) and PHP (php-gbif). These clients are not maintained by GBIF.

Cloud computing services

Each month, an export of GBIF occurrence data is uploaded to various cloud computing services. These services allow users to query the data, integrate it into workflows running on cloud or local systems and make more complex queries than are possible using the GBIF API. See Cloud computing services for more information.


Under the terms of the GBIF data user agreement, users who download data agree to cite a DOI. Please see GBIF’s citation guidelines.