Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (1): 53-65.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2017189

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Biodiversity information resources. II. Environmental data

Fenglin Zhang1,2, Xin Wang1,2, Jian Zhang1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Tiantong National Station for Forest Ecosystem Research, School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241
    2 Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological Security, Shanghai 200092
  • Received:2017-06-25 Accepted:2018-01-05 Online:2018-01-20 Published:2018-05-05
  • Contact: Zhang Jian
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors


Environmental data are the basis for addressing many important ecological issues, including biodiversity distribution patterns, mechanisms of biodiversity formation and maintenance, and species conservation. Recently, many types of environment data at regional and global scales have dramatically increased, with the continuous expansion of global environment monitoring networks and emergence of new monitoring technologies. However, the vast amounts of data are scattered all around the world, making it much more difficult for biodiversity researchers to access detailed information and use these data efficiently. In this paper, we combine the main sources of environmental datasets, and classify them into five major groups, including (1) climate, (2) topography, soil and habitat heterogeneity, (3) land cover, (4) hydrology variables, and (5) other data sets. We then select several datasets with high-frequency usage to briefly introduce the data source, data structure, data availability, and data quality. We also select several previous studies to showcase the use of these datasets. In summary, we include 45 environmental data sets in this paper, covering several frequently used data in ecology (e.g., WorldClim and Harmonized World Soil Database), as well as some latest released or seldom used data (e.g., climate change velocity, EarthEnv habitat heterogeneity data, global forest coverage data, and global light pollution data). In addition, it is important to point out that these data sets are only a small fraction of currently available and continuously increasing environmental data. Overall, we hope that the incomplete list of environmental data can provide guidelines for researchers to select and utilize them and other similar data accurately and effectively.

Key words: Key Words: biodiversity informatics, biogeography, macroecology, big data, data sharing