BioFresh project

Member of the

Freshwater Information Platform

A selection of useful shapefiles in freshwater biodiversity research

Biodiversity datasets and shapefiles

  • The BioFresh BioMatrix
    • The BioFresh BioMatrix holds contemporary distributions of freshwater species mapped to the latest catchment layer; HydroBASINS.
    • More info and download links: on the BioFresh resource pages and at IUCN
    • Manual: direct download link at IUCN

Geographic region and country shapefiles

  • TDWG Geographic Region Level 1-4: Continent, regions, provinces and countries
  • Countries
  • Grids
    • Regular equal-area units at different scales. UTM squares, latitudinal squares and icosahedric triangles
    • Download links: at EDIT
  • FADA-regions
    • Fada faunistic regions:
      AfroTropical, ANTarctic, AUstralasian, NeArctic, NeoTropical, OrientaL(Indomalaya), PACific(Oceania), PalaeArctic
    • Download link: .zip

Hydrographic regions

  • Global Lakes and Wetlands Database (GLWD)
    • The Global Lakes and Wetlands Database (GLWD); Lehner, B. and P. Döll (2004): Development and validation of a global database of lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. Journal of Hydrology 296/1-4: 1-22. Three levels are included, two are available as polygon shapefiles and one as a grid;
    • Level 1: Largest Lakes and Reservoirs
    • Level 2: Other Lakes and Reservoirs
    • Level 3: Level 1 + Level 2 + Extra Info (as grid)
    • More info: page on spatial data at WWF, pdf at WWF
    • Download info: at WWF (requires contact details for downloading)
  • Freshwater Ecoregions of the World
  • European ecoregions for rivers and lakes according to Illies
  • GIWA Large Marine Ecosystem/Basin Delineation
    • Global International Waters Assessment's Terrestrial WaterSheds and Large Marine Ecosystems, a medium resolution WS delineation based on terrestrial modifications to the NOAA-URI Large Marine Ecosystems.
    • More info: at FAO
    • Direct download link: at FAO
  • WRI Major Watersheds of the World Delineation
    • WRIBASIN: Watersheds of the World published by the World Resources Institute, a cleaned version of this watershed delineation enhanced to include WRI's original publication attributes.
    • More info: at FAO
    • Direct download link: at FAO
  • Rivers
    • Data on rivers at country level from DIVA-GIS
    • Concatenated world shapefiles for rivers available on request
  • Waterbodies
    • Data on waterbodies at country level from DIVA-GIS
    • Concatenated world shapefiles for waterbodies available on request
  • Other spatial data on hydrographic regions
    • HydroSHEDS: Hydrological data and maps based on SHuttle Elevation Derivatives at multiple Scales
    • Watershed shapefiles at FAO
  • European Catchment Characterisation and Modelling - CCM River and Catchment Database, version 2.1 (CCM2)
    • More info and download link: at JRC
  • GRDC Global Runoff Data Centre - Map products
    • The Global Runoff Data Centre map products include Major River Basins of the World (GRDC, 2007), Watershed Boundaries of GRDC Stations (GRDC, 2011) and WMO Regions and Subregions (GRDC, 2004).
    • Please consult for more info and usage conditions

Terrestrial ecoregions

  • Bailey ecoregion scheme for the continents
    • Ecoregions of the Continents characterizes global potential natural vegetation at approximately 1/2-degree resolution. The dataset is based on a Russian vegetation map (Gerasimov, 1964), updated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Robert C. Bailey) and reprojected to geodetic coordinates at the World Conservation Monitoring Center, England.
    • Detailed info for the U.S.: at US forrest services

Climatic regions


Other spatial data lists

Spatial environmental datasets

  • Global Ecosystems Database (GED)
    • Collection of spatial datasets on ecosystem features.
    • More info: at NOAA
  • HYDRO1k Elevation Derivative Database
    • HYDRO1k is a geographic database developed at the U.S. Geological Survey's Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) to provide comprehensive and consistent global coverage of topographically derived data sets, including streams, drainage basins and ancillary layers derived from the USGS' 30 arc-second digital elevation model of the world (GTOPO30).
    • More info: at USGS
  • Atlas of the Biosphere
  • Climate Change Data - GCM
    • Datasets part of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) climate change downscaled data, developed in the Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA) program. The data have been originally downloaded from the IPCC data portal and re-processed using an spline interpolation algorithm of the anomalies and the current distribution of climates from the WorldClim database developed by Hijmans et al. (2005).
    • More info: at ccafs-climate
  • Global land cover at GEO-Wiki
    • The Geo-Wiki Project is a global network of volunteers who wish to help improve the quality of global land cover maps.
    • More info: at GEO-Wiki
  • CGIAR-CSI Datasets - Consortium for Spatial Information
    • Digital Elevation Data: at cgiar
    • Global Potential Evapo-Transpiration (Global-PET) and Aridity Index (Global-Aridity): at cgiar
    • Global High-Resolution Soil-Water Balance: at cgiar
  • MODIS Land Cover Data
    • Collection 5 Land Cover product (MOD12Q1)
    • More info: at BU