Explanation of contents in GBIF Backbone Downloads

I am looking for more information on what these files are in the Backbone Downloads and a description of the columns: backbone-current-simple.txt and col-names.txt. I would have thought col-names.txt was a description of the columns in backbone-current-simple.txt or another flat file in the directory, but it appears to be something else. Any leads on decoding these would be appreciated. My end goal is to extract taxonomy structure of organisms in GBIF.

Hi @jlmontie

We don’t have any documentation made specifically for the backbone-current-simple.txt.gz file. That being said, the terms for the field used in the Darwin Core Archive version are described in the Darwin Core Term Reference guide.

The headers of the backbone-current-simple.txt files are mentioned in this readme.
Overall, the idea is that “u.id” is a unique key for each taxon and each “fk” refer to the IDs in the file. For example, “u.parent_fk” indicated the “parent” taxon of a taxon. The id are also what is called taxonKey in the GBIF occurrence API and what you can use to access species pages. For example, the id 7763 corresponds to the family Podoviridae: https://www.gbif.org/species/7763

As far as I know the col-names.txt contain the Catalogue of Life (CoL) names.

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