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Using GBIF to Demonstrate Colonial Legacies on Biodiversity Data


Mohammed, Ryan S. et al. (2022), Using GBIF to Demonstrate Colonial Legacies on Biodiversity Data, Dryad, Dataset,


Biologists recognize the Caribbean archipelago as a biodiversity hotspot and employ it for their research as a “natural laboratory”, but do not always appreciate that these ecosystems are in fact palimpsests shaped by multiple human cultures over millennia. We discuss two case studies of the Caribbean’s fragmented natural history collections, the effects of differing legislation and governance by the region’s multiple nation states. We use digital natural history specimen data from GBIF to demonstrate how colonial history has influenced specimen collection patterns in Trinidad & Tobago, The Bahamas, and the Greater Antilles.


Data on digitized natural history specimen comes from the GBIF database through the GBIF API using the R package `rgbif`.

Institution locations were gathered partially through the GBIF API, and partially manually.