bon in
a box

Improving Capacity for Biodiversity Conservation

BON in a Box (Biodiversity Observation Network in a Box) is a customizable and continually updated toolkit. It provides access to the latest biodiversity observation design, data collection protocols, and dat management, analysis and reporting tools. It serves as a technology transfer and capacity building mechanism to ensure you have access to the best and most up-to-date tools and technologies for building a biodiversity observation system.
BON in a Box connects tools users and developers to promote ongoing tool improvements and the development of new tools. The goal is to lower the threshold for the start-up or enhancement of a biodiversity observation networks and support more effective conservation actions through the improved supply of quality biodiversity data. BON in a Box is a Group on Earth Observations – Biodiversity Observation Network initiative and the development of this Latin American regional version was led by Colombia’s Alexander von Humboldt Institute.

who is
it for?

Those Interested in Quality Biodiversity Observational Data

BON in a Box is designed to serve the needs and interests of national governments who need high quality biodiversity data to inform their domestic and international reporting requirements and conservation commitments. However, BON in a Box will also be useful for any organization, community or individual who is interested in starting, enhancing or harmonizing their biodiversity observation efforts.

why is
it needed?

Adequate Information about Biodiversity Changes and Threats

Across the planet, biodiversity data is limited and poorly integrated due to varying methodologies and standards, and most existing observation systems lack capacity and are not well connected to policy needs. This limits our ability to make informed and timely conservation decisions and support sustainable development. Continual advances in biodiversity observation technologies (e.g. camera-traps, etc.), methodologies, and models are being realized, making observation efforts more powerful and efficient. However, no system exists to facilitate their rapid discovery and sharing.
The Group on Earth Observations–Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON; is developing BON in a Box as a practical means by which the most effective and advanced tools can be deployed around the world to support the development of enhanced biodiversity observation Networks, increase the quantity and quality of biodiversity observations, and better connect them to policy-making

How to use
the Box?

Make available to everyone the efforts of everyone

By consulting Bon in a Box you can select tools under five different categories, which are divided by tag filters that allows specific searches, or via a general search engine. The description of each label can be found in the second section, search filters.
When selecting a tool and follow the see more (+) link at the bottom right corner, you can access more detailed information about the tool, description, contact the developers or managers, and a specific forum for that tool where any authenticated user on the system can participate, ask questions and discuss openly about the tool. For more general questions you can use the general forum in the last section.
Finally you can suggest tools to be in Bon in a Box, which will be reviewed by a GEO BON experts panel and will contact the user to publish the tool with all claims.


The development of this Latin American version of BON in a Box was led by Colombia's Alexander von Humboldt Institute on behalf of GEO BON. However, its development was made possible through the generous support of a number of organizations. The following partner logos identify the contributing organizations.


Observation Design

First key questions

Define the conceptual framework and questions that guide which observations are needed is the starting point for successfully structuring a successful biodiversity monitoring system. Is ideal to design this monitoring system so it helps and supports countries in their national (environmental policy) and international (CBD and IPBES) biodiversity conservation commitments. Under this label you will find documents that can facilitate this initial work.

Data collection

Protocols and New Technologies

The process of data collection and documentation of biodiversity observations must be done rigorously, selecting designs and methods that allow us to get the right information to answer our questions, this is the basis for a analysis phase good development. Under this label you will find tools such as sampling protocols and new technologies for data collection as camera traps, metagenomic or citizen science.

Data management

Standards and Interoperability

There is an enormous amount of biodiversity information that comes from many sources and different types of formats. To be able to take advantage of this depends on the use of standards. Data standards ensure interoperability of the major initiatives of biodiversity information in the world to organize and unify how they are issued. Under this label you will find documentary and technological tools such as web platforms and software that allow data standardization and publication of resources.

Data analysis

Information and Indicators

The result of the analysis turns data into information. Usually, the results are focused on a system of indicators that seek to improve the understanding of biodiversity response to global change, integrate various dimensions of biodiversity and connect with local trends with national, regional and global trends. Under this label you can find tools and web platforms for online analysis, software for analyzing biological and geographical data, methodological sheets of indicators and data portals.

Report results

Visualization and communication

The information and results of the biodiversity observations must be communicated in different ways depending on the audience or end user that require the information. Infographics and other means for data visualization, facilitate their interpretation and may cause a high impact on end users. Under this label you will find tools for results visualization, and material produced to communicate results of biodiversity observations that may be useful as examples to follow.

essential biodiversity variables

Communities composition

Diversity and interactions between species

Under this label you will find specific tools to capture, analyze and/or communicate data at the level of biological communities, meaning information on which species live together. Includes multi-taxa observations and data obtained with metagenomic techniques. Also tools for observations of interactions between species and/or species networks. For example, plant-animal systems such as dispersers and pollinators.

Ecosystem function

Productivity, nutrients and disturbances

Under this label you will find tools to capture, analyze and/or communicate information about the energy flow and nutrients through an ecosystem, as well as phenomena that directly affect their function, structure or composition. Tools for measuring the productivity of functional groups and accumulation, flow and retention of nutrients. Fire frequency, extreme temperature, strong winds, landslides, floods, etc.), using remote sensors and in-situ measurements. This information should help measure the conservation or ecosystem degradation condition.

Ecosystem structure

Habitat structure and composition

Under this label you will find tools to capture, analyze and/or communicate direct impacts on ecosystems through three-dimensional measurement of the habitat, and changes in functional groups within an ecosystem. These measures are generated through in-situ measurements or remote sensors and commonly used as a proxy for measuring the biomass of an ecosystem. Eg: forest structure using LIDAR technology.

Genetic composition

Similarity, wealth, differentiation and genetic variation

Under this label you will find tools to capture, analyze and/or communicate information about the degree of genetic independence between individuals and populations of the same species, allelic richness in genotypes of selected species, or differentiation of genetic frequency between populations and subpopulations. Some useful applications are endangered species or monitoring varieties by type of livestock or crop.

Species populations

Distributions and population structure of species

Under this label you will find tools to measure, analyze and/or provide information on changes in spatial distribution and in the population structure of a species. For example the number of individuals, biomass of a particular demographic class for a given taxon or important functional group, collected at a specific location.

Species traits

Phenology, Body mass, Dispersion, Demography, Physiology and Migration

Under this label you will find tools to measure, analyze and/or provide information on periodical biological events, whether aimed at a taxa or oriented to a particular phenomenon such as change in the color of leaves in deciduous forests . You'll also find tools to observe changes in body mass, dispersal distances, demographic characteristics such as the effective reproduction rate and survival rate, ecophysiological traits such as tolerance to temperature change or water availability and changes in migration patterns. This information helps to understand the likelihood of a specific taxa to be affected by environmental changes.

by theme

Ecosystem services

Quantification, Valuation and Mapping

Ecosystem services are classified into three types: 1) provisioning services , which directly serve the needs of humanity: like food, fuel or building materials 2) regulating services such as climate regulation, flood prevention, etc. and 3) cultural services , which provide benefits associated with spirituality, recreation or aesthetic experiences. Under this label you will find tools that through biodiversity observations allow you to quantify, assess and map ecosystem services.

Citizen science

Participatory data collection

Citizen science is a tool that allows the conscious and voluntary participation of citizens in scientific projects. Usually, the citizen science is based on Information and Communication Technologies, which enable the collection, management, analysis and dissemination of information. The decisions constructed through inclusive participation and sharing of knowledge are more likely to be supported by the community. Under this label you'll find tools developed or applied for procurement and analysis of biodiversity observations in Citizen Science projects.

Traditional knowledge

Local communities and biodiversity observations

It refers to the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities worldwide. This knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation and has been developed through the experiences of communities throughout history; adapting to the needs, cultures and environments. Has helped maintain and even enhance biological diversity through centuries, it is a vital source of information for identifying uses of resources; understanding that has benefited mankind as a whole. The Convention on Biological Diversity establishes the need for states to respect, preserve, maintain and promote a wider application of traditional knowledge with the approval and participation of relevant indigenous and local communities.

Invasive species

Risk of Species Introduction

Invasive species are those foreign species that have established self-sustaining populations in natural ecosystems and have negative interactions with native species. Biological invasions are considered the second leading cause of biodiversity loss and one of the top five drivers of change. If the biodiversity observations that you require relate to risk assessment of species introductions, prevention, management or control of biological invasions, under this label you will find specific tools for the collection, management, analysis and reporting of such information.


International Trade of Species

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, is an international agreement that aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. If you require biodiversity observations related with trade and trafficking of species, listed under this label you´ll find tools applied for the collection, management, analysis and reporting of related data.


Transboundary Biodiversity Observations

Animal migration involves the displacement of populations from one place to another and a later return to the same location. These movements are part of the annual cycle of these species. Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects perform migrations. Effective conservation efforts for migratory species relapse in the ability to understand the interactions between different states of their anual cycles, such as breeding, stopover sites, energy costs of migration, wintering areas, migratory connectivity, among others. If the biodiversity observations you require are related to migratory species refer to this label to find the most innovative tools for working with migratory species.

Fresh water

Aquatic Resources

Freshwater ecosystems (rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater) and the biodiversity they support provide numerous essential ecosystem services (potable water, food security, etc.) thereby requiring careful stewardship. However, freshwater ecosystems are experiencing severe and accelerating pressures and are deteriorating faster than other ecosystems. Effective management of freshwater ecosystems requires a holistic understanding of the ecosystem functions and interactions and appropriate governance arrangements. Under this label, you’ll find the latest tools for observation design and data collection, management and reporting (e.g. indicators) that can underpin aquatic resource evaluations.


Coastal and marine habitats

Thanks to the high diversity of coastal and marine habitats, the ocean is a food provider and plays an important role in moderating the climate. Currently, human activities threaten coastal areas and seas by overfishing, mining, pollution, waste disposal, among others. There are different evaluation efforts and monitoring of marine, ocean and coastal biodiversity. Under this label you'll find tools to start, improve or harmonize you efforts in marine biodiversity observation.


Variety of habitats

Terrestrial ecosystems cover a diversity of habitat types, from savannah to deserts to forests to alpine. A number of human related stressors, from agriculture to transportation systems to urbanization to climate change, are resulting in growing pressure on these ecosystems and the biodiversity they support. Informed and effective conservation efforts require robust and accessible information on biodiversity trends and the drivers of these trends. Under this label, you’ll find the latest tools for observation design and data collection, management and reporting that can contribute to more effective biodiversity observations that underpin terrestrial biodiversity conservation.

by kind


Metadata, data and information

A dataset is a collection or group of records that share a grouping criteria. This criteria can be a methodology, an obtaining purpose, a geographic area, a time reference, etc. Datasets should refer to a set of metadata, which describes the content, quality, condition and other characteristics of the data in a standardized format, ensuring the viability and permanence of the data sets, in order to ease their use for multiple purposes and in different contexts. Under this label you'll find the link to the main portals that give access to data sets on biodiversity observations.


Computer processing and analysis

The software is developed through programming languages, which allows programmers to specify precisely, under which data a computer must operate. Under this label you will find the link to the best software for processing and analysis of biodiversity observations.

Data standards

Information interoperability

Biodiversity data derives from multiple sources, stored in various formats and various types of platforms. An essential step to understanding biodiversity global patterns is to provide the standardization of these heterogeneous data, in order to improve interoperability. To reach this goal is essential to define common terms and categories. Data standards are technical documents that define a set of properties that a product must have. One of the most widely used standards for structuring the biodiversity datasets is DwC (Darwin Core). It was designed to facilitate the exchange of information about species biological records and of the existence of specimens in biological collections.


Written publications

Under this label you'll find written, published or unpublished documents through the web on issues concerning Biodiversity Observations, where results, observations, and other scientific research are reported.

filters by

Taxonomic Groups

Amphibians, Birds, Invertebrates, Mammals,
Fish, Reptiles, Plants

Biodiversity Observations can be focused on a particular taxonomic group. We have created this filter so you can find the tools that will be useful for the group you want to work with.



ask the community

Popular Questions
Cesar Gutierrez
09 - 09 - 15

I am looking for existing tools that allow one to download satellite derived landcover data. Can someone suggest some existing tools or sources?

Check with the Bon in a Box network
Latest Questions
Cesar Gutierrez
09 - 09 - 15

In our national park system, we want to incorporate visitors into our monitoring program. Can you point me to some good tools or handbooks on how best to do this?