Data sharing

Why should I share my data with the ALA?

Thank you for considering sharing your data with the ALA.

The ALA itself does not generate any content and so it is only through your contributions that we can support biodiversity and conservation analysis.

Any information you share increases the pool of accessible information for research, monitoring and reporting on the state of Australian biodiversity. More quality information supports additional research and evidence-based decision making by conservation and management authorities.

When you share your data with the ALA, you:

  • gain increased visibility of your activities, resources and expertise. Whenever someone finds, views or downloads your data they see a notice that the data is owned by you. If you like, we can also provide a link to your website because we want to improve traffic to your website, have more people using your information and promote you and your activities so you can continue to dedicate your time and expertise to studying and enhancing knowledge of Australia’s biodiversity
  • gain an opportunity to collaborate. You can connect with other individuals and organisations that are interested in the same areas as you and potentially collaborate with them on future projects
  • are able to receive feedback and advice. Other Atlas users can comment on your data, as you can on theirs. This process helps improve the quality of your data
  • gain access to the Atlas analytical tools available in the Spatial Portal.

Who else is sharing data with the ALA?

The ALA is a collaborative project aggregating information from research institutions, state/territory and federal agencies as well as biodiversity interest groups and individuals.

Current contributors include large and small institutions and individuals, including:

  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums (OZCAM)
  • Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH)
  • Australian Biological Resources Survey (ABRS)
  • Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport (NRETAS)
  • New South Wales – Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)
  • South Australia – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
  • Birds Australia
  • Eremaea Birds
  • Wolf Spiders of Australia
  • Seashells of New South Wales

For a list of current data providers see:

What licensing conditions apply to my information?

This depends on the amount of data you provide and how you provide it.

If you submit data through the ALA’s Record a Sighting function, it is considered to be an individual observation and a ‘fact’. Facts have no intellectual property and so do not need to be licensed, though the ALA will attribute the observation to you.

If you provide a collection of sightings, eg on a spreadsheet or from a database, this is a dataset and does need to be licensed. The ALA prefers to use the Creative Commons Attribution license.

See also FAQ Data licensing.

What information can I share with the ALA?

You can share a wide range of information with the ALA, including:

  • Information about a species (contributions to a species profile): Descriptions, characteristics, groupings, measurements. The information may be structured  (separated into categories, eg in a spreadsheet) and include a controlled vocabulary, text, numbers, static maps; or it may be unstructured text (in a single block).
  • Multimedia (ideally multimedia will be georeferenced):
    • images (photographs, sketches, anatomical drawings, paintings etc) of specimens in a collection or in the wild (‘habitus’) or environments in which a species lives
    • sounds made by a species
    • movies of a species in its habitat or of its behaviour
  • Information on where species are (species occurrence data):
    • individual occurrence records: observations, recordings (multimedia), specimens (preserved or living)
    • species lists/checklists: expert distributions, predictive maps and models, surveys
  • Collections of specimens
  • Geospatial layers: area boundaries, definitions and types; environmental information
  • Resources (where to go for more information): documents, websites, information systems, activities (projects, programs), people (groups, institutions, agencies, individuals)

How do I share my multimedia (photos, movies, sound recordings) with the ALA?

If the multimedia is of a:

  • species AND you know where the multimedia was captured, then share them as sightings (occurrences) with related multimedia. Otherwise share them as species profile multimedia
  •  place but without a specific species, eg a habitat, then share them as a georeferenced resource/image/document.

How do I edit my data?

To edit your data:

  1. Log in to the ALA.
  2. Click the ‘My Profile’ tab.
  3. Click ‘View the sightings you have recorded’.
  4. Select the record you want to edit.
  5. Edit it.

What format should my data be in?

The file type is not really an issue as the ALA can accept data in any well known file format. However, data structured to match one of the ALA templates (link) or Darwin Core will be much easier to integrate. We can also take a look at other schema but it will likely take longer to load as we convert it to Darwin Core for loading.

What are the minimum mandatory fields needed by the ALA?

To include a record in the ALA the only information needed is:

  • the basis of record (observation, specimen, still image, movie, sound)
  • a recognisable species name (scientific or common name)
  • an indication of location (coordinates, a recognisable place name, a polygon).

However, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine how reliable such a record is and whether it should be used for particular purposes, eg can it be used for analysis, modelling or an environmental impact assessment. Additional information therefore produces a higher ‘quality’ record, where ‘quality’ means that users can more easily determine its ‘fitness for use’.

See also FAQ Data upload templates

What fields are needed for a high quality record?

A high quality record contains the minimum mandatory fields plus as many of the following fields as possible:

  • precision and accuracy fields:
    • coordinate precision, coordinate uncertainty
    • taxon rank, identification qualifier
  • verification information:
    • survey methodology
    • geodetic datum, georeference information (by, protocol, references, date)
    • identification information (by, protocol, references, date)
    • verbatim values
  • other:
    • precision and accuracy
    • verification details
    • related records and taxa
    • multimedia

What is the ‘basis of record’?

Basis of record is a mandatory field that identifies what the record is ‘of’—was something seen but there is no further evidence (an observation), is there a photo, movie or sound recording or was a specimen collected.

Who can provide data to the ALA?

Anyone can share their information with the ALA.

For a list of current data providers see

Do I have to have a profile or user account to upload data?


Do I have to download software to upload data?

No, although data formatted to fit one of the templates makes it much easier to integrate in to the ALA.

What if I get the species name wrong?

We will try to match it as best the automated process can but the ALA is not resourced to check identifications. Other users of the ALA may provide feedback on your error by using the “Flag an issue” function on your sighting.

If you are unsure of the species, this Species identification page may have some ideas for getting it correctly identified.

Can I upload data from a mobile device such as a smart phone or iPad?

Yes, simply access the ALA website as normal using your device.

Do you want observations of dead species, like road kill?

Dead species are an indication of the presence of the organism so yes, but please indicate  in the occurrence remarks that the specimen was dead.

What quality checks are done on my data?

The ALA runs tests against the location, identification and completeness of the records.  The results of the tests are flagged against the records.

What happens if there is a problem with my data?

If your data contains at least a recognisable species and  location we will load the record, and all other possible issues are noted with the record. Other ALA users can then decide whether or not your records are suitable for their individual purposes.

Have you shared your information with another organisation that may already be sharing the information with the ALA?

If you have shared your information with another organisation such as a government department or conservation agency then they may have already shared it with the ALA. We will try to identify duplicate records and remove them.

What is ‘attribution’?

Attribution is a statement about who provided the data.

You can nominate how you would like to be acknowledged as the provider of your data. Typical attributions include:

  • your name, date
  • your company name, date
  • your website URL as a hyperlink
  • Department name, Section, contact details