If you are like most of us here at VAL, iNaturalist has become your go-to source to quickly check the distribution of an organism. For many species, like the Painted Turtle, the default map is very good, and even has shapefiles pulled from external sources (the pink shaded area). Yet for less charismatic or hard to photograph species, the range maps can be misleading. Using this bee as an example, the map indicates that it has only been found in one forest plot in the northwest corner of Louisiana. Of course iNaturalist is not the only source of distribution data on the internet, and one could visit all of them to get a better understanding of the range of the species of interest. Or, with one click, you could see all the records on the iNat map! 

GBIF is the Global Biodiveristy Information Facility, which aggregates biodiversity records for hundreds of different sources, including ebird, iNaturalist, and datasets generated by projects such as the Vermont Wild Bee Survey. To add an overlay of GBIF records to an iNat map, hover your mouse over the layer icon in the top right, then click the GBIF network checkbox. You can also click the little symbol to the right of the checkbox which will bring you to the relevant species page on GBIF. 

This also works well for species that don’t have iNaturalist records (such as Andrena persimulata), in this case because it is probably impossible to identify without a microscope.  Occasionally the GBIF network box is missing, which is usually the result of a taxonomic discrepancy between the two platforms. For example, the latin endings for most long-horned bees (genus Melissodes) were recently changed from feminine to masculine (ie. M. desponda -> M. despondus) and until the GBIF taxonomy is updated, this feature is unavailable for that species.