Rgbif keys

In trying to download occurrence data for a list of species and a separate list of genera, I have been using the name_backbone function and then grabbing the speciesKey and the genusKey respectively. However, I noticed that there is also a usageKey that gets output from the name_backbone function. What is the difference between the usageKey and either of these other keys? I suppose a more basic question is what is the usageKey?

I suspect that the usageKey is the key of the taxon (so the same as speciesKey if the taxon is a species for example).
This is a question for @sckott though.

I won’t respond about the official definition of usageKey as i’m not affiliated with GBIF, but from my understanding usageKey is the key for whatever the taxon is that record - so it may be for any rank: species, genus, phylum, etc.

Thank you for this explanation. It helped me check some of the output I was getting from name_backbone.

For example, when inputting “Leiophyllum R. Hedw.” into name_backbone it outputs a “usageKey” as well as an “accepted usageKey.” This name is a synonym of “Kalmia L.,” which is the accepted name. “Kalmia L.” does not have an “accepted usageKey” which is understandable since it is the accepted name.

The “accepted usageKey” of “Leiophyllum R. Hedw.” matches the usageKey of “Kalmia L.” which also makes sense, since “Kalmia L.” is the accepted name. In addition, the “accepted usageKey” of “Leiophyllum R. Hedw.” matches its reported genusKey, which means that the name_backbone function does actually interpret the name you submitted and output the accepted name’s genusKey (probably also phylumKey, etc. at the higher ranks).

I suppose that means that the “usageKey” is the taxonKey for that name specifically, but if you are worried you have synonyms in your list and you want only data from accepted names, you could use the genusKey (or speciesKey, etc based on the taxonomic level of your input names) which will be the accepted key.

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