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Use of GBIF helps clarify environment-species links
Date:11/11/2011

every location that we were looking at, we made a list of all the species that were there. Rather than just count them we used the identity of species. "We wanted to see whether there is a link between variation in environmental conditions and variation in species composition, and we wanted to do it over several spatial scales and large spatial extents."

Kent says that the results were expected: that over larger areas it is factors such as temperature and rainfall that mainly determine which species are present, while at the more local scale, species composition is influenced more by the presence of forest, urban development, agriculture and other variables in land use and cover.

"It was expected according to the theory, but this is the first time that anyone actually showed it quantitatively and empirically over very large spatial scales. This is the novelty of the research," Kent argues.

The team believes the study has very important implications for conservation, because it advances the understanding of how species interact with their environment over large scales crucial, for example, in designing protected area policies and wildlife corridors.

"The study would not be possible if we did not have such free access to the data as provided by the GBIF portal," Kent adds.

"We used over 300,000 occurrence records of mammals in the United States which is a huge database, not available in any other form than through GBIF.

"Collecting those data separately from each of the data publishers that are connected through GBIF would be, although not impossible, unfeasible. The GBIF portal creates opportunities for studies that simply would not be possible otherwise."
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Contact: Tim Hirsch
thirsch@gbif.org
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
Source:Eurekalert

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