What are they and where are they located? The Charles Darwin Foundation publishes the marine biodiversity checklists of the Galapagos Marine Reserve in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

Leslie León
22 Jun 22 /

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) is the institution that safe keeps the Natural History Collections of the Galapagos Islands, which are located at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. These are, in fact, the most complete Galapagos-related collections worldwide, and illustrate the endemic, native and introduced species of the Galapagos. In this regard, the CDRS collections represent a fundamental baseline of information and a pool of knowledge acquired along decades by scientists. This information is now available to be utilized by researchers, local actors such as decision-makers and other stakeholders involved in conservation, management and public policy aimed to develop effective strategies for the conservation of the biodiversity of the Galapagos.
The acquisition and yielding of information leading to the generation of science-based knowledge produced by the CDF has been undergone over the past six decades. Thanks to this long-term endeavor of managing, administering, and making this knowledge accessible, the CDF fulfils its institutional mission that seeks to support the conservation of the Islands. In fact, during recent years, important institutional resources and generous funding support have been allocated to enhance the knowledge exchange and sharing from CDF to the world. Publishing this information under the Creative Commons framework and following the ‘open-source’ format constitutes a paradigmatic shift in the knowledge production in Galapagos. Additionally, this has been an important step forward in the usage of state-of-the-art technology and dynamic resources that enable the enrichment of the system and strengthen our biodiversity data base, by entering new records, species and specimens.
Along the years, all the records, species and specimens that are stored in the databases have become a major source of varied formats of knowledge, which, depending on the type of research question, management priority, challenge or threat, could be filtered and systematically extracted through data sets available, also known as ‘checklists’. These ‘checklists’ are presented in a format that comply scientific standards, and present data and information acquired from research conducted by CDF scientists, collaborators, and visitors throughout our institutional life, and which are additionally enriched with records of historical scientific expeditions.
The CDF began developing this initiative in 2008, when it presented users with an initial list of all the marine species reported in Galapagos through its website. In 2010, some progress was made with the creation of the first dynamic version of this instrument that and in 2012, the DataZone Portal was launched which is the site where the checklists are displayed as well as the distribution of the species and specimens collected in the GMR that lie in the CDFs collections.

In 2022, the Marine Ecosystems and Marine Collections teams, with the support of CDF’s Department of Innovation, Research and Development have updated and improved the integration and visualization of the marine biodiversity information previously described. This redesigned and updated information and knowledge are part of an institutional vision and strategical initiative, which seeks to give open and free access to marine biodiversity data from Galapagos.
Currently, the publication of the marine biodiversity checklists allows us to share knowledge about marine biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands, which exceeds 4500 species. Within these checklists, attributes like taxonomy, distribution, and general collection were revised and updated in various ways. For example, enquiries were made with experts of varied taxa, and also, by confirming our data with standardized and specialized digital resources (e.g., Algaebase, Fishbase and WORMS). The information that has been revised is summed up into fifteen checklists, grouped into these taxonomic categories: algae, ascidians, bryozoans, cnidarians, crustaceans, ctenophores, echinoderms, fish, flatworms, marine arachnids, marine mollusks, nematodes, and others.
The initiative taken by the CDF to publish these datasets in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) platform, under the Creative Commons license, presents a new dimension in the generation and management of scientific knowledge from and about Galapagos. This initiative has been possible thanks to this platform, which currently offers free, open access to biological data concerning marine biodiversity. Hopefully, it soon will also enable the integration of terrestrial biodiversity data as well. We consider this to be a key transition into the knowledge generation dimension, that to highlight the importance and uniqueness of the Galapagos Archipelago.

Leslie León

Communications Officer

View bio
Andres Cruz

Protect Galapagos, Impact the World

The impact you make on this small ecosystem of enormous biodiversity is part of a larger footprint you are leaving for the world's future. Join us on our mission to safeguard one of our planet’s most important natural treasures through science and conservation action by making a donation today. Thank you for making an impact with us.