NatureServe Web Services

Species Images Service

NatureServe Explorer provides access to a collection of species images. The Species Images Service provides direct access to the metadata for those images, including the URL's for the image files themselves. Searches may be conducted for a single species, or by wildcarded scientific or common name. Since an image may be available at multiple resolutions, the service can be asked, for instance, for just the thumbnail version. The URL's for related versions at other resolutions are shown in the response.

NOTE: Please ensure that any usage of an image complies with the terms and conditions shown in the termsAndConditions element. It is extremely important that the image permissions bestowed by the rights holder are respected and that the rights holder is credited whenever an image is displayed.



Exactly one of either the uid, scientificName or commonName parameters is required. If multiple parameters are presented, the service gives preference to uid, then scientificName, then commonName, and silently ignores the other supplied parameters.

Parameter Description
uid The Unique ID for a single species in NatureServe Explorer, e.g., ‘ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.453627’.
scientificName An asterisk (*) wildcarded species scientific name, e.g., ‘Aquila chry*’. Name matching is case-insensitive.
commonName An asterisk (*) wildcarded species common name, e.g., ‘g*EAGLE’. Name matching is case-insensitive.
includeSynonyms An optional parameter, relevant to scientific or common name queries, that indicates whether to include synonymous names in the query, as follows.
  • Y (or y) – search the Primary and all synonymous Scientific and Common Names
  • Any other value, or omitted – search only the Primary Scientific and Common Name fields
resolution An optional parameter that restricts output to images at a certain resolution. The value can be of one of the following.
  • lowest – return only the lowest resolution version of images
  • highest – return only the highest resolution version of images
  • thumbnail – return only the version NatureServe deems the ‘thumbnail image’
  • web – return only the version NatureServe deems the ‘web image’
The omission of this parameter leads to the return of metadata for images at all available resolutions.
ITISNames An optional parameter, relevant to scientific or common name queries, that will indicate whether to restrict queries to ITIS names, as follows.
  • Y (or y) – query using ITIS names
  • Any other value, or omitted – query using NatureServe names
NOTE: This parameter is a placeholder only and will not affect processing. At present, searching by ITIS names is not possible.
XML schema
Root element images
Detailed documentation documentation_ImageMetadataSchema_v1.1.xml
Ordering Images are sorted according to the selection parameter used, therefore either by Unique ID, Scientific Name or Common Name.
Sample service calls (live)
Current Version: v1 (first release)