Animals 2013, 3(2), 327-348; doi:10.3390/ani3020327
Article

Use of Anecdotal Occurrence Data in Species Distribution Models: An Example Based on the White-Nosed Coati (Nasua narica) in the American Southwest

1,* email, 2email, 3email and 4email
Received: 20 February 2013; in revised form: 2 April 2013 / Accepted: 12 April 2013 / Published: 17 April 2013
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Simple Summary: We evaluated the influence of occurrence records with different reliability on predicted distribution of a unique, rare mammal in the American Southwest, the white-nosed coati (Nasua narica). We concluded that occurrence datasets that include anecdotal records can be used to infer species distributions, providing such data are used only for easily-identifiable species and based on robust modeling methods such as maximum entropy. Use of a reliability rating system is critical for using anecdotal data.
Abstract: Species distributions are usually inferred from occurrence records. However, these records are prone to errors in spatial precision and reliability. Although influence of spatial errors has been fairly well studied, there is little information on impacts of poor reliability. Reliability of an occurrence record can be influenced by characteristics of the species, conditions during the observation, and observer’s knowledge. Some studies have advocated use of anecdotal data, while others have advocated more stringent evidentiary standards such as only accepting records verified by physical evidence, at least for rare or elusive species. Our goal was to evaluate the influence of occurrence records with different reliability on species distribution models (SDMs) of a unique mammal, the white-nosed coati (Nasua narica) in the American Southwest. We compared SDMs developed using maximum entropy analysis of combined bioclimatic and biophysical variables and based on seven subsets of occurrence records that varied in reliability and spatial precision. We found that the predicted distribution of the coati based on datasets that included anecdotal occurrence records were similar to those based on datasets that only included physical evidence. Coati distribution in the American Southwest was predicted to occur in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona and was defined primarily by evenness of climate and Madrean woodland and chaparral land-cover types. Coati distribution patterns in this region suggest a good model for understanding the biogeographic structure of range margins. We concluded that occurrence datasets that include anecdotal records can be used to infer species distributions, providing such data are used only for easily-identifiable species and based on robust modeling methods such as maximum entropy. Use of a reliability rating system is critical for using anecdotal data.
Keywords: anecdotal data; climate; evidentiary standards; ecological niche models; Madrean; maximum entropy; occurrence records; species distribution models
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MDPI and ACS Style

Frey, J.K.; Lewis, J.C.; Guy, R.K.; Stuart, J.N. Use of Anecdotal Occurrence Data in Species Distribution Models: An Example Based on the White-Nosed Coati (Nasua narica) in the American Southwest. Animals 2013, 3, 327-348.

AMA Style

Frey JK, Lewis JC, Guy RK, Stuart JN. Use of Anecdotal Occurrence Data in Species Distribution Models: An Example Based on the White-Nosed Coati (Nasua narica) in the American Southwest. Animals. 2013; 3(2):327-348.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Frey, Jennifer K.; Lewis, Jeremy C.; Guy, Rachel K.; Stuart, James N. 2013. "Use of Anecdotal Occurrence Data in Species Distribution Models: An Example Based on the White-Nosed Coati (Nasua narica) in the American Southwest." Animals 3, no. 2: 327-348.

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