The Inventory of Colombian Diversity at a Species Level

An open data perspective

Dairo EscobarInstituto Alexander von Humboldt
Sistema de Información sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia
Iván GonzálezInstituto Alexander von Humboldt Daniel AmarilesInstituto Alexander von Humboldt
Sistema de Información sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia
Juan Mauricio BenítezInstituto Alexander von Humboldt
Sistema de Información sobre Biodiversidad de Colombia
María Cecilia LondoñoInstituto Alexander von Humboldt

A large amount of data regarding biodiversity is not yet accessible or visible, so effective and timely actions for the integrated management of biodiversity are limited.

Understanding and caring about biodiversity, along with using information on biodiversity for Colombia's development, is one of the nation's greatest

challenges. Recently, the preoccupation of comprehending the causes of the loss of biodiversity has encouraged scientists to consolidate a species inventory from which patterns of change through time and space may be identified 1,2.

Offering primary open access data (biological records (registros biológicos and species lists) is evermore urgent because such data support research, education, and the decision-making that is related to a global integrated management of biodiversity3,4. A good example of the use of open data is Biomodelos (Biomodels), a digital tool developed by the Humboldt Institute. This application allows for communication between specialists in species distribution models. Such collaborative approach results in information that is useful in other research studies and decision-making.

Additionally, the Biodiversity Information System (SiB Colombia for its initials in Spanish5), is a collaborative network of knowledge construction that is of international renown. The network is coordinated by the Humboldt Institute. It encourages data visibility and reuse through a participative and interoperable model, and, as a national initiative, supplies the systematization, publication, and free access of Colombian biodiversity information. SiB Colombia contains more than 3,000,000 biological records and 58 species lists due to the extensive participation of universities, NGOs, environmental authorities, research institutes, biological collections, and thematic networks. Nevertheless, a great part of biological data generated in the country is still not accessible, limiting effective and timely strategies for the integrated management of biodiversit.

Having data and information publicly accessible implies institutional challenges that include supporting the cost of infrastructure maintenance and the availability of information through time. Similarly, scientists are responsible for documenting, standardizing, and publishing data6. The number of biological records and registered species between 2014 and 2015 has increased, which means that the opposition towards publishing data in open platforms is decreasing. In order to advance in the completion of the national inventory of Colombian biological diversity, researchers and institutions should work together to make biodiversity data available to the public.

Biological record

Information related to the evidence (existence, fact, or occurrence) of a living organism. This event may be recorded in its natural medium (in situ) by human or machine observations or else originate from the study of specimens found in a biological collection

66% of biological records are published by national entities.

One of the great innovations of SiB Colombia is in association with the magazine Biota Colombiana, Biota Colombiana, and consists on encouraging data articles as a mechanism to stimulate the publication of primary information.
This initiative gives the academic and working acknowledgement to those who generate, systematize, curate, and analyze information on biodiversity.
“Lo que siempre hemos buscado a través de las plataformas en línea es poder brindar un flujo de publicación más ágil y más transparente al usuario”.
Daniel Amariles
“Conforme avancemos en la generación de listados de especies estos consolidados que hemos reportado, van a ser mucho más acertados”.
Iván González