Databases, distribution atlases, and other data sources

The main databases and distribution atlases on Estonian biodiversity of the last twenty years are available from the eElurikkus portal


Autor: Karl Adami
BIODIVERSITY AT ITS PUREST. You can find the interactive output of the plant atlas on the eElurikkus portal. By: Karl Adami


Species distribution atlases


The species distribution atlas (formerly as a book, nowadays also online) reflects the distribution of species in Estonia over a period of time and has been compiled by species groups (for example, plants, mammals, birds).


Published distribution atlases


  • Eesti taimede levikuatlas (Atlas of the Estonian flora) – The compiling of the atlas began in 1973, it was published in 2005 (compiled by Tiiu Kull and Toomas Kukk). The creation of a new atlas is also nearing completion, its interactive output is located at the eElurikkus portal.
  • Eesti haudelindude levikuatlas (Estonian Breeding Bird Atlas) – It is available at the eElurikkus portal, the physical book was published by the Estonian Ornithological Society in 2018 (compiled by Jaanus Elts, Andrus Kuus, and Eerik Leibak).

  • Eesti putukate levikuatlas (Atlas of the Estonian insects) – Compiled in 1998 (compiled by Ilmar Süda, Georg Miländer), the second part was published in 2000 (authors Kaljo Voolma, Heino Õunap, Ilmar Süda, et al.).

  • Eesti seente levikuatlas (Atlas of the Estonian fungi) – Published by Erast Parmasto between 1993 and 1999.

  • Eesti imetajate levikuatlas (Atlas of the Estonian mammals) – Published between 1980 and 1999, but a new mammal distribution atlas is already being compiled. From the end of 2019, a StoryMap is available with preliminary distribution maps of all Estonian mammal species, which will be supplemented with new data. The data collection environment for the mammalian atlas is the nature observations database.

The eElurikkus portal


A large number of Estonian biodiversity data sets from the last twenty years are available at the eElurikkus portal.


The aim of eElurikkus is to aggregate data from science, collections, monitoring, and amateur scientists so that information on species occurring in Estonia can be found and downloaded in one place. The data come from databases of taxonomy, ecology, phylogenetics, nature conservation, etc., compiled by individuals, working groups, and institutions and built on the common data management platform PlutoF.


The eElurikkus data portal dates back to, by agreement, the year 2001, when the employees of the then Institute of Zoology and Botany, Urmas Kõljalg and Aavo Kuslapuu, created the first relational database. The purpose of creating the database was to manage the data of specimens stored in the scientific collections.


In 2003–2004, the development work moved to the University of Tartu, where the database and data management research were developed in the Natural History Museum and the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences. By 2006, the same data management platform was already used by several Estonian research collections and working groups. By 2008, there was enough information in the databases to open the public eElurikkus portal. 2018 marked the tenth anniversary of the eElurikkus portal and a completely new portal, based on the Atlas of Living Australia software, was launched.


Nature Observations Database


The Nature Observations Database was created for all nature enthusiasts who want to enter observations of different species. In addition, the database can be used to enter sightings of traces of activity (tracks, faeces, other traces of activity) and dead specimens (for example, a fox lying on the side of a road after being hit by a car). A Nature Observations Database app has been created for use in smart devices (Google Play; App Store).


The Nature Observations Database was launched in 2008, when a database for volunteer nature lovers to register their observations was created as a development of the then Information and Technology Centre of the Ministry of the Environment (today’s Environment Agency) and the Estonian Naturalists’ Society. A few years later, the Nature Observations Database was connected to the Estonian Nature Information System (EELIS) and since 2015, the Nature Observations Database has had an app that allows observations to be registered in the database at the site of the observation.


Although so far, the Nature Observations Database and the eElurikkus portal have existed in parallel and are relatively separate from each other, the future goal is to systematically use the data of both databases together and to develop technical capabilities for this purpose.


Use of data sets


The observational data collected in the databases is used by scientists and conservationists in their daily work to describe changes in the distribution of species over time and space (for example, in the context of climate change) and to organise the protection of protected species and the control of alien species.


Every Estonian interested in nature can also supplement the nature observations database and the eElurikkus database.


Estonian Nature Information System (EELIS)


EELIS compiles data from the fields of nature conservation and water that were included in the former environmental register. In addition, it contains data sets that were not included in the environmental register: for example, objects from the book of primeval nature, the list of islands, cultural heritage objects, the data set on Natura 2000 habitats, and much more.


EELIS is a tool mainly meant for environmental officials for managing and using nature-related data. You can read more about the information system at the information page of EELIS.



Last modified: 08.06.2022