European Commission logo
Energy, Climate change, Environment


Europe’s seas and oceans are home to a staggering abundance and diversity of life, from large charismatic species such as seals, whales and dolphins, to the microscopic marine algae that form the base of the marine food chain. More than 36,000 known species of marine plants and animals are found in Europe, and understanding their geographic distribution, abundance and seasonal, annual or decadal variation is key to detecting changes in the marine ecosystem and for assessing ecosystem health of maritime basins. Unfortunately, measuring or observing marine life on a large scale is difficult. For the most part, data are collected over short time periods or in relation to specific species in target locations. Often data are collected by different organisations using different standards, technologies and conventions, making it challenging to combine information from different surveys or different databases.


The EMODnet biology data portal provides free access to data on temporal and spatial distribution of marine species and species traits from all European regional seas. It is built upon the World Register of Marine Species and the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System. EMODnet Biology aims to provide a single access point to European marine biodiversity data and products by assembling individual datasets from various sources and processing them into interoperable data products for assessing the environmental state of ecosystems and sea basins.



Key services provided by EMODnet Biology

EMODnet Biology provides key services and products to users, these services and products allow users to search and also to visualise data and related data products:



The project will use the data and metadata standards that have been used and developed under the ur-EMODnet prototype during EMODnet Phase I. To ensure interoperability, EMODnet Biology implements (and if necessary adapts) common standards defined by SeaDataNet, WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species), OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System), INSPIRE, GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and the Lifewatch infrastructure.


Data sources

EMODnet Biology provides access to data from a wide range of sources and actively pursues inclusion of new and historical data sets to the inventory based on careful assessment of the ease of use and fitness for purpose of the data and associated databases. The databases feeding into EMODnet Biology contain data from all regional and sub-regional seas of Europe, as specified by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.



EMODnet Biology data product development

A set of gridded map layers are available showing the average abundance of at least three species per species group for different time windows (seasonal, annual or multi-annual as appropriate) using geospatial modelling. In addition, spatially distributed data products specifically relevant for Marine Strategy Framework Directive Descriptor 2 (non-indigenous species) are available. Use is made of additional environmental information from other lots of EMODnet, e.g. on benthic habitat characteristics and water masses, to be used as co-factors in the gridding. The current Phase III of EMODnet's development will see a focus on the development of essential data products for key stakeholders.


Improvements in the current development phase III (2017-2021)

  • Development of core data products from EMODnet Biology to support management, policy, planning and education, considering both at European and regional seas level, as well as for global/international purposes.
  • Availability of EMODnet Biology API: Occurrence data (species observations) as Web Feature Service (WFS), additional measurements, linked to the occurrence data as Web Feature Service (WFS) and retrieval of data of the gridded abundance data products as WFS/WMS. Use of the AphiaID to query by (biological) taxonomy and IMISDasID to query by metadata dataset. Examples of EMODnet Biology Data applications written in R are also available.
  • Data layers provided to support Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Biology Pic

Biology DataBox

Leading Partner

View the full Consortium


Data available

  Gridded Abundance (DIVA)
  Species groups
  • phytoplankton
  • zooplankton
  • angiosperms
  • macro-algae
  • invertebrate bottom fauna
  • birds
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • fish