News from GBIF

OBIS and GBIF endorse joint strategy and action plan for marine biodiversity data

Two global data networks have agreed to a joint strategy and action plan that will deepen their collaboration, improve the flows and services of high-quality data about marine and coastal biodiversity, and support research and decision-making on the world’s oceans.

Leveraging their 2020 collaboration agreement, OBIS—the Ocean Biodiversity Information System—and GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—will focus on wider technical collaboration and shared capacity-building activities. The combined actions will extend and deepen the partnership by increasing cross-network cooperation while maintaining both communities’ identities and reinforcing their capacity to fulfil their respective mandates.

The focus on marine biodiversity includes data for all taxa listed in the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), which provides a comprehensive, authoritative list of names of marine organisms along with information on synonyms. The plan aims to increase the availability of additional data for these taxa through, and their associated services.

Originally called the Ocean Biogeographic Information System and founded in May 2000 under the Census of Marine Life, OBIS is now a core component of the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. Its aim is to provide the most comprehensive data and information on the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life, supporting the efforts of its 150 Member States to achieve a healthy and resilient ocean ecosystem.

GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility—was established as a voluntary collaboration between governments in 2001, with the aim of providing anyone, anywhere free and open access to data about all types of life on Earth. Its network of countries and organisations relies on a set of common standards and open-source tools that enable them to bring together information from widely different sources—museum and herbarium specimens, eDNA barcodes, surveys and field studies, and citizen science records, among others.

The history of collaboration between OBIS and GBIF extends to the adoption and refinement of common tools, such as GBIF’s Integrated Publishing Toolkit, and the use of interoperable standards like Darwin Core. More recently, the two networks have worked together to incorporate new streams of eDNA-based data, prompting the addition of new co-authored guidance on how to publish DNA-derived data on marine life to their platforms.

Tim Robertson appointed new GBIF deputy director

GBIF’s Executive Committee is pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Robertson as the new deputy director of the GBIF Secretariat. While continuing to serve as head of informatics, Tim Robertson will assume the role previously held by Tim Hirsch, who is transitioning out after a distinguished 13-year term at the Secretariat, the last ten as deputy director.

Tim Robertson brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his new position. He has been an integral part of GBIF since joining in 2005, and under his leadership, the informatics team has significantly advanced GBIF’s mission to provide free and open access to biodiversity data. His efforts have been pivotal in modernising the data infrastructure, enhancing data quality, and expanding the accessibility of biodiversity data for researchers, policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders.

“Tim Robertson’s deep understanding of the technical and strategic aspects of our work makes him an ideal successor in this important role,” remarked Liam Lysaght, chair of the GBIF Governing Board, expressing his confidence in Robertson’s capabilities to steer GBIF forward. “I have no doubt that the Secretariat and wider network will continue to thrive under his guidance.”

Tim Hirsch’s departure marks the end of an era of significant milestones for GBIF, including the expansion of its global network and the strengthening of partnerships worldwide. His work has been pivotal in emphasising the crucial role of biodiversity data in supporting important international frameworks, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

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