What are biodiversity data standards 

Different researchers and institutions capture and store data in the forms and combinations which best meet their needs. However, to make this data more widely accessible and to ensure it can be reused for different purposes, data providers need to consider the most appropriate way to expose their data. They need to decide which structures and terms will be best recognised by others. 

Once these decisions have been made, data providers need to ensure their data is transformed (or mapped) into these standard forms, and that the data set is associated with a good description and additional information on the source and ownership of the data, again in a form which can be understood by other users (see our metadata article). 

The Atlas of Living Australia aims to provide users with powerful tools to access well-managed structured data which can be integrated into a wide range of tools and analyses. To make this happen, the ALA depends on the existence of common data standards and protocols which ensure that data records are compatible. Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) is an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing such standards.

For more information, see TDWG's Biodiversity Information Standards.

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Darwin Core 

The Atlas of Living Australia uses the data standard Darwin Core (DwC), including information about what, where and how of a species sighting. Darwin Core is a standard maintained by the Darwin Core maintenance group. It includes a glossary of terms (in other contexts these might be called properties, elements, fields, columns, attributes, or concepts) intended to facilitate the sharing of information about biological diversity by providing identifiers, labels, and definitions. Darwin Core is primarily based on taxa, their occurrence in nature as documented by observations, specimens, samples, and related information. This could be what species was observed (scientific name), where was the species observed, location information (Latitude, and longitude), and how the species was observed, basis of record. 

TDWG has a list of all Darwin Core terms and a quick reference guide available. The quick reference guide is a good place to start as it identifies those terms which are maintained as part of the dwC standard.