Metadata and Occurrence Records

In order to share your species occurrence records with the NBN Atlas we need two files:

  1. the metadata for your dataset
  2. the occurrence records.

1. Metadata

Metadata describes who collected it, why it was collected, how it can be used and the methods used to collect it.  It is important as it provides the information a user needs to assess whether the data are fit for their intended use.  This metadata is available to all NBN Atlas users when they view the data resource page.

We have a template and user guide for providing metadata:

NBN Atlas Metadata Form (csv)

Guide to NBN Atlas Metadata Form (pdf)

2. Species occurrence records

Occurrence records in the NBN Atlas follow the data standard Darwin Core. The NBN Atlas does not have access controls, which means that the public resolution of the records is as supplied by the data provider.

We have a template and user guide for providing occurrence records in Darwin Core format:

NBN Atlas Occurrence Record Upload Template (csv)

NBN Atlas Occurrence Record Upload Guide (pdf and html)

In the template and guide we have included all the fields that are required for data submission and some of the more commonly used fields in NBN Atlas datasets that are not required. Data providers are not restricted to the set of fields in the template; any Darwin Core term can be used in the dataset. You can read the reference guide for the Darwin Core terms.

Please email if you have any questions regarding submitting records or the use of Darwin Core terms.

Data licence and rightsholder

All records require a data licence and a rightsholder. Details of the available licences can be found on the data licence page. The rightsholder is the person or organisation that holds the rights over the record. Generally it is either the recorder or the organisation that they represent.

Species Dictionary (UK Species Inventory)

The NBN Atlas uses the UK Species Inventory (UKSI) for the species dictionary. Please supply a Taxon Version Key (TVK) for each record in the taxonID field. The TVK can be for either the scientific or the common name. To match a species name to a TVK you can use the online UKSI TVK matching tool (created by the Natural History Museum, London) or please email for help with matching TVKs.

Verification status terms

Records submitted to the NBN Atlas require the identification verification status of the record. Verification status is based on the iRecord verification scheme and the options accepted on the NBN Atlas are Accepted (including the more granular Accepted – correct and Accepted – considered correct), Unconfirmed – plausible and Unconfirmed – not reviewed. Read more about the full verification status terms.

Darwin Core Archives

Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) is a biodiversity informatics data standard that makes use of the Darwin Core terms to produce a single, self-contained dataset for species occurrence or taxonomic data. A DwC-A is a zip file containing a file describing the data (metadata) and a second file containing the data.

If a data partner is able to create a DwC-A, then this is the ideal way to send data to the NBN Atlas, however, we appreciate that not all of our data partners have the technical resource to be able to create these documents.

GBIF provides guidance and validators for DwC-A and a useful how to guide.

NBN Data Exchange format

We continue to accept records in the old NBN Data Exchange format. Any data supplied to us in this format will be mapped to Darwin Core before importing into the NBN Atlas.

Other data formats

We accept un-formatted records, as long as the required fields are included in the file. Any data supplied to us will be mapped to Darwin Core. There may be a delay in the records being ready for upload, depending on the amount of formatting required.

Data processing schedule

We process datasets on a monthly schedule on the first Monday of each month. Please allow a few days before the first Monday of each month in order for us to format and upload your datasets ready for processing.