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Netherlands Biodiversity API

Naturalis has developed the Netherlands Biodiversity API (Application Programming Interface) to allow researchers access to its biodiversity-related data.

The Netherlands Biodiversity API (Application programming interface) is a state-of-the-art data service for scientists, application developers, national and regional government bodies and anyone else interested in biodiversity and biodiversity-related data. The provision of biodiversity-related data by Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the starting point for this service. By granting free and open access to Naturalis' extensive catalogues, historical and recent data relating to a variety of species are made available, including specimen, multimedia and taxon data.

The API services offered by the NBA are simple to use, making it relatively easy for scientists and app developers to build applications that use Naturalis data. At the same time the high performance level and multiple functionalities of the NBA, which is based on the powerful ElasticSearch open source search engine, allow for complex and complete results. All technical and functional information pertaining to the NBA has been made available through Github.

Currently users of the NBA can retrieve data and multimedia from the two main digital collection management systems of Naturalis, the Naturalis MediaLibrary and a range of taxonomic resources, most notably the Dutch Species Register and the Catalogue of Life, both hosted by Naturalis. Per source system, the following data is available:


Naturalis source system Basic data made available
CRS Zoological specimens from the main collections: vertebrates, invertebrates, insects, fossils, stones and minerals
Brahms Botanical specimens and botanical collections (groups of specimens)
Nederlands Soortenregister and Catalogue of Life Species
Brahms, CRS, NSR Multimedia (photos, videos, 3D)


The basic data for specimens can broadly speaking be divided into the ‘who-what-where-when-and how-data’: who identified the specimen with a unique code, what was the identification, and who found the specimen when, where and how or from whom did they receive it.

Basic data for species are taxonomic data supplemented with more detailed data such as species description, distribution area, biotope and habitat.

The data service has the form of a technical Netherlands Biodiversity API with which a data researcher is able to request automated or ad hoc datasets per data type for himself and/or others, after he has received permission for this from Naturalis. 

After the introduction of the first version of the service, the possibilities will be expanded step by step. These steps will lead to:


The Naturalis Bioportal is a website that serves as the national access portal for all information relating to natural history, from basic data about museum objects right through to fully illustrated species descriptions. Via a single website, Bioportal grants access to all digitised details about the Naturalis collections, using the Netherlands Biodiversity API. Since July 2015, all objects digitized within Naturalis are available through the Bioportal. This information will continue to be further extended with all the data linked together in the NBA. Bioportal is effectively a ‘client’ of the NBA, an example application that delivers data from the NBA in an appealing manner, via a web portal.