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Here we’ll walk you through a few ways to download and save data from the Atlas of Living Australia. The data on the ALA comes in different formats and therefore downloading and saving what you want can look a little different for each datatype. 

It’s important to consider the licensing of the data you’re using, especially if you plan on publishing/sharing your findings or the data in some way. While it’s free to use ALA data it doesn’t mean it’s free of obligations. See our Citing the ALA article to learn about how to reference the data you use from the ALA.

How to download a map

If you want a print-quality map of occurrence records for a given species, follow these steps:

1. From the species page (e.g. Species page for Black-Anther Flax Lily), click the button under the map, labelled View records:

screenshot of the species information page for black-anther flax-lily, highlighting where 'view records' is shown beneath the map

2. On the records page (e.g. Occurrence records for Black-Anther Flax Lily) click the Map tab.

screenshot of the occurrence records page, highlighting where the map and download map buttons are located

3. When viewing the map (e.g. Map of occurrence for Black-Anther records for Flax Lily), click the Download map button. 

4. Modify the options (format, file name, colours, base layer, etc.) to suit your requirements and click the orange Download map button.

The image file should appear in your browser's downloads directory.

screenshot of the options panel to select colour, opacity, file size, etc of a map download

How to download records

You can download data from the ALA in a number of different forms.

To do this:

1. Make sure you are logged into the ALA.

2. Perform a search for occurrence records, you can also do batch taxon searches.

screenshot of the batch taxon search page


3.  Filter the results by taxon, location, source of the data and other facets to narrow the list down to only the most relevant records to you.

4. Click the Download button near the top right of the screen. 

screenshot of the occurrences results page, showing the download button in the top right


5. Choose a download type - Occurrence records, Species checklist, or Species field guide. 

6. Tell us why you're downloading this data (this helps us learn about what our data is used for) and click Next. 

7. Our system will start to collect the information and prepare the file(s), and you'll be sent an email when the data is available for download.


Data formats

Occurrence records

Occurrence records are downloaded in a CSV file, which can then be imported into a number of different tools for further analysis. There are a few different options for what data gets included in the download (Figure 6):

  • Full Darwin Core (DwC) file - this will include in the data every field listed in the Darwin Core biodiversity datafile standard.
  • ALA Legacy Format - this includes all Darwin Core information, our data quality assertions (how accurate we think each record is, based on the supplied information), and sampling data including spatial information (eg. IBRA, or climate information inferred from the record's location). Basically, this option downloads everything we know about a record.

screenshot of the ALA downloads page

  • Customised download - you can choose which data fields to include. This is useful in cases where a record includes additional data beyond the standard DwC fields, but you'd still like to include them, or to exclude sets of fields that aren't relevant to your research. The customise your download section also allows you to add spatial information to your occurence record download. This could be in the form of environmental layers such as temperature or contextual layers such as local government areas. This will add columns to your data with the information about those layers at the point of the occurence record. 

screenshot of the customise download screen

You can also choose whether the data is in CSV (comma-separated values) or TSV (tab-separated values) format (Figure 7).




Downloading occurrence records will automatically create a Digital Object Identifier, or DOI, for that set of data. You can read more about DOIs and the ALA here.

Species checklist

A species checklist is a short list of information in CSV format about every species represented in the list of occurrence records. It includes the species' LSID (life science identifier), scientific name, taxonomic classification, common name, conservation status (if known) in each state or territory, and whether the species is on any invasive species lists.

Species field guide

A field guide provides general information on the species represented in the occurrence records in PDF format. It includes scientific and common names, a representative photo (if available) of the species, and a heat map of the number of sightings across Australia. It also includes a hyperlink on the first page to the original search used to find the occurrence records used to generate the field guide (Figure 8).

















Wait time

If you've selected a species checklist or field guide, those files will begin to download immediately once they have been generated. In the case of occurrence records, our system may need a moment to collect all the requested data - once this is complete, you'll receive an email with a link to the dataset, or you can access it immediately via the "Download now" button on the download progress page. If you close this window, or don't receive the email, you can find it again on the My Downloads page.

screenshot of the 'your download is now ready' screen


Reviewing past downloads

You can view a list of your previous downloads and DOIs here: https://doi.ala.org.au/myDownloads