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Muddy Boots Beget Wisdom: Implications for Rare or Endangered Plant Species Distribution Models

Centro de Investigación de la Biodiversidad y Cambio Climático, y Carrera de Ingeniería en Biodiversidad y Recursos Genéticos, Facultad de Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Machala y Sabanilla, Quito EC170301, Ecuador
Department of Biological Sciences, International Center for Tropical Botany, Cuban Research Institute, and Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
Kushlan Tropical Science Institute, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, FL 33156, USA
Department of Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, USA
Centro Universitario de Mérida, Universidad de Extremadura, 06800 Mérida, Spain
Real Jardín Botánico (RJB-CSIC), 28014 Madrid, Spain
National Germplasm Repository, Agricultural Research Service−Subtropical Horticultural Research Station United States Department of Agriculture, Miami, FL 33158, USA
Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(1), 10;
Received: 7 December 2018 / Revised: 9 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 15 January 2019
PDF [487 KB, uploaded 15 January 2019]


Species distribution models (SDMs) are popular tools for predicting the geographic ranges of species. It is common practice to use georeferenced records obtained from online databases to generate these models. Using three species of Phaedranassa (Amaryllidaceae) from the Northern Andes, we compare the geographic ranges as predicted by SDMs based on online records (after standard data cleaning) with SDMs of these records confirmed through extensive field searches. We also review the identification of herbarium collections. The species’ ranges generated with corroborated field records did not agree with the species’ ranges based on the online data. Specifically, geographic ranges based on online data were significantly inflated and had significantly different and wider elevational extents compared to the ranges based on verified field records. Our results suggest that to generate accurate predictions of species’ ranges, occurrence records need to be carefully evaluated with (1) appropriate filters (e.g., altitude range, ecosystem); (2) taxonomic monographs and/or specialist corroboration; and (3) validation through field searches. This study points out the implications of generating SDMs produced with unverified online records to guide species-specific conservation strategies since inaccurate range predictions can have important consequences when estimating species’ extinction risks. View Full-Text
Keywords: conservation; georeferencing error; Northern Andes; Phaedranassa; species occurrence data; taxonomy conservation; georeferencing error; Northern Andes; Phaedranassa; species occurrence data; taxonomy

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Oleas, N.H.; Feeley, K.J.; Fajardo, J.; Meerow, A.W.; Gebelein, J.; Francisco-Ortega, J. Muddy Boots Beget Wisdom: Implications for Rare or Endangered Plant Species Distribution Models. Diversity 2019, 11, 10.

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