Effects of detectability on estimates of geographic range size in Bignonieae

Journal Article

Sheth SN; Lohmann LG; Consiglio T; Jimenez I


Conservation Biology



Extinction risk has not been evaluated for 96% of all described plant species. Given that the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation proposes preliminary conservation assessments of all described plant species by 2010 herbarium specimens (i.e. primary occurrence data) are increasingly being used to infer threat components from estimates of geographic range size. Nevertheless estimates of range size based on herbarium data may be inaccurate due to collection bias associated with interspecific variation in detectability. We used data on 377 species of Bignonieae to test the hypothesis that there is a positive relationship between detectability and estimates of geographic range size derived from herbarium specimens. This relationship is expected if the proportion of the true geographic range size of a species that is documented by herbarium specimens is given by the product of the true geographic range size and the detectability of the species assuming no relationship between true geographic range size and detectability. We developed 4 measures of detectability that can be estimated from herbarium data and examined the relationship between detectability and 2 types of estimates of geographic range size: area of occupancy and extent of occurrence. Our results from regressing estimates of extent of occurrence and area of occupancy on detectability across genera provided no support for this hypothesis. The same was true for regressions of estimated extent of occurrence on detectability across species within genera. Nevertheless regressions of estimated area of occupancy on detectability across species within genera provided partial support for our hypothesis. We considered 3 possible explanations for this mixed outcome: violation of the assumption of no relationship between true geographic range size and detectability; the relationships between estimated geographic range size and detectability may be an artifact of a negative relationship between estimated area of occupancy and the sampling variance of detectability; detectability may have had 2 opposite effects on estimated species range sizes: one determines the proportion of the true range of a species documented by herbarium specimens and the other determines the distribution of true range size for the species actually observed with herbarium data. Our findings should help improve understanding of the potential biases incurred with the use of herbarium data. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR].



The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.