Skip to contents

About

galah is an R interface to biodiversity data hosted by the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA). The ALA is a repository of biodiversity data, focussed primarily on observations of individual life forms. Like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the basic unit of data at ALA is an occurrence record, based on the ‘Darwin Core’ data standard.

galah enables users to locate and download species observations, taxonomic information, record counts, or associated media such as images or sounds. Users can restrict their queries to particular taxa or locations by specifying which columns and rows are returned by a query, or by restricting their results to observations that meet particular quality-control criteria. With a few minor exceptions, all functions return a tibble as their standard format.

Installation

To install from CRAN:

Or install the development version from GitHub:

install.packages("remotes")
remotes::install_github("AtlasOfLivingAustralia/galah")

Load the package

Choosing an atlas

By default, galah downloads information from the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA). To show the full list of Atlases currently supported by galah, use show_all_atlases().

## # A tibble: 6 × 3
##   atlas     taxonomy_source taxonomy_info                                                    
##   <chr>     <chr>           <chr>                                                            
## 1 Australia ALA             https://bie.ala.org.au/                                          
## 2 Austria   GBIF            https://www.gbif.org/dataset/d7dddbf4-2cf0-4f39-9b2a-bb099caae36c
## 3 Guatemala GBIF            https://www.gbif.org/dataset/d7dddbf4-2cf0-4f39-9b2a-bb099caae36c
## 4 Spain     GBIF            https://www.gbif.org/dataset/d7dddbf4-2cf0-4f39-9b2a-bb099caae36c
## 5 Sweden    GBIF            https://www.gbif.org/dataset/d7dddbf4-2cf0-4f39-9b2a-bb099caae36c
## 6 UK        NBN             https://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/data/uk-species.html

Use galah_config() to set the Atlas to use. This will automatically populate the server configuration for your selected Atlas. By default, the atlas is Australia.

galah_config(atlas = "UK")

Building queries

Functions that return data from the chosen atlas have the prefix atlas_; e.g. to find the total number of records in the atlas, use:

## # A tibble: 1 × 1
##       count
##       <int>
## 1 102070026

To pass more complex queries, start with the galah_call() function and pipe additional arguments to modify the query. modifying functions have a galah_ prefix and support non-standard evaluation (NSE).

galah_call() |> 
  galah_filter(year >= 2020) |> 
  atlas_counts()
## # A tibble: 1 × 1
##     count
##     <int>
## 1 7046687

To narrow the search to a particular taxonomic group, use galah_identify(). Note that this function only accepts scientific names and is not case sensitive. It’s good practice to first use search_taxa() to check that the taxa you provide returns the correct taxonomic results.

search_taxa("reptilia") # Check whether taxonomic info is correct
## # A tibble: 1 × 9
##   search_term scientific_name taxon_concept_id                                    rank  match_type kingdom  phylum   class  issues
##   <chr>       <chr>           <chr>                                               <chr> <chr>      <chr>    <chr>    <chr>  <chr> 
## 1 reptilia    REPTILIA        urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:682e1228-5b… class exactMatch Animalia Chordata Repti… noIss…
galah_call() |>
  galah_filter(year >= 2020) |> 
  galah_identify("reptilia") |> 
  atlas_counts()
## # A tibble: 1 × 1
##   count
##   <int>
## 1 45020

Downloading records

The most common use case for galah is to download ‘occurrence’ records; observations of plants or animals made by contributors to the atlas. To download, first register with the relevant atlas, then provide your registration email.

galah_config(email = "email@email.com")

Then you can customise records you require and query the atlas in question:

result <- galah_call() |>
  galah_identify("Litoria") |>
  galah_filter(year >= 2020, cl22 == "Tasmania") |>
  galah_select(basisOfRecord, group = "basic") |>
  atlas_occurrences()

result |> head()
## # A tibble: 6 × 8
##   decimalLatitude decimalLongitude eventDate              scientificName  taxonConceptID   recordID dataResourceName basisOfRecord
##             <dbl>            <dbl> <chr>                  <chr>           <chr>            <chr>    <chr>            <chr>        
## 1           -43.4             147. ""                     Litoria ewingii urn:lsid:biodiv… 780cf8e… iNaturalist Aus… HUMAN_OBSERV…
## 2           -43.2             147. "2020-01-18T22:31:00Z" Litoria ewingii urn:lsid:biodiv… cc9d437… iNaturalist Aus… HUMAN_OBSERV…
## 3           -43.2             147. ""                     Litoria ewingii urn:lsid:biodiv… d208d47… iNaturalist Aus… HUMAN_OBSERV…
## 4           -43.1             147. ""                     Litoria ewingii urn:lsid:biodiv… 95fab19… iNaturalist Aus… HUMAN_OBSERV…
## 5           -43.1             147. "2020-04-30T06:10:00Z" Litoria ewingii urn:lsid:biodiv… 2b7fdc5… Earth Guardians… HUMAN_OBSERV…
## 6           -43.1             147. "2020-06-23T02:48:00Z" Litoria ewingii urn:lsid:biodiv… 3524080… Earth Guardians… HUMAN_OBSERV…

Check out our other vignettes for more detail on how to use these functions.

Function map

Not all atlas_ functions support all possible query modifiers (i.e. functions with a search_ or galah_ prefix). A network diagram showing accepted arguments is shown below. Note that if you pipe your queries starting with galah_call(), then irrelevant arguments will be (silently) ignored.

plot of function relationships