COPENHAGEN, DENMARK -- Analysis of a massive set of mammal data accessed through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal has helped quantify the influence of various environmental factors on which species are present in a particular area.
A team of Israeli scientists based at the Technion Institute, Haifa, used all available mammal occurrence records with detailed coordinates in the 'lower 48' states of the continental United States.
Some 308,000 records of 284 species, from 70 datasets published through the GBIF network to global standards, were mapped against a number of environmental variables at ten spatial scales, ranging in resolution from 20 sq km to 10,000 sq km 'grain' size, and from 20,000 sq km to 10m sq km in extent.
The results, published in PLoS One ( http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0025440) , suggest that at the larger scale and coarser resolution, climate is the biggest factor influencing the composition of mammal species communities, while land use and land cover (human uses and natural vegetation types) become increasingly important at smaller scales and higher resolution.
While much previous research has examined species richness the sheer number of species in a particular area the Technion team believes this is the largest study of its kind to look at what determines 'species composition', in other words which species are present as well as how many.
It built on earlier research from the same team, published in Diversity and Distributions ( http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00755.x/full ) validating the use of presence-only data, of the kind published through GBIF, for this type of analysis.
Lead author Rafi Kent explains: "In
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Global Biodiversity Information Facility