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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. Romanach, Stephanie S. (Ed.)
    Massive biological databases of species occurrences, or georeferenced locations where a species has been observed, are essential inputs for modeling present and future species distributions. Location accuracy is often assessed by determining whether the observation geocoordinates fall within the boundaries of the declared political divisions. This otherwise simple validation is complicated by the difficulty of matching political division names to the correct geospatial object. Spelling errors, abbreviations, alternative codes, and synonyms in multiple languages present daunting name disambiguation challenges. The inability to resolve political division names reduces usable data, and analysis of erroneous observations can lead to flawed results. Here, we present the Geographic Name Resolution Service (GNRS), an application for correcting, standardizing, and indexing world political division names. The GNRS resolves political division names against a reference database that combines names and codes from GeoNames with geospatial object identifiers from the Global Administrative Areas Database (GADM). In a trial resolution of political division names extracted from >270 million species occurrences, only 1.9%, representing just 6% of occurrences, matched exactly to GADM political divisions in their original form. The GNRS was able to resolve, completely or in part, 92% of the remaining 378,568 political division names, or 86% of themore »full biodiversity occurrence dataset. In assessing geocoordinate accuracy for >239 million species occurrences, resolution of political divisions by the GNRS enabled the detection of an order of magnitude more errors and an order of magnitude more error-free occurrences. By providing a novel solution to a significant data quality impediment, the GNRS liberates a tremendous amount of biodiversity data for quantitative biodiversity research. The GNRS runs as a web service and is accessible via an API, an R package, and a web-based graphical user interface. Its modular architecture is easily integrated into existing data validation workflows.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 14, 2023
  3. Predictions from species distribution models (SDMs) are commonly used in support of environmental decision-making to explore potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity. However, because future climates are likely to differ from current climates, there has been ongoing interest in understanding the ability of SDMs to predict species responses under novel conditions (i.e., model transferability). Here, we explore the spatial and environmental limits to extrapolation in SDMs using forest inventory data from 11 model algorithms for 108 tree species across the western United States. Algorithms performed well in predicting occurrence for plots that occurred in the same geographic region in which they were fitted. However, a substantial portion of models performed worse than random when predicting for geographic regions in which algorithms were not fitted. Our results suggest that for transfers in geographic space, no specific algorithm was better than another as there were no significant differences in predictive performance across algorithms. There were significant differences in predictive performance for algorithms transferred in environmental space with GAM performing best. However, the predictive performance of GAM declined steeply with increasing extrapolation in environmental space relative to other algorithms. The results of this study suggest that SDMs may be limited in theirmore »ability to predict species ranges beyond the environmental data used for model fitting. When predicting climate-driven range shifts, extrapolation may also not reflect important biotic and abiotic drivers of species ranges, and thus further misrepresent the realized shift in range. Future studies investigating transferability of process based SDMs or relationships between geodiversity and biodiversity may hold promise.« less
  4. Quaternary climate change reduced and homogenized angiosperm tree diversity across large landscapes worldwide.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 5, 2024
  5. Biodiversity contributes to the ecological and climatic stability of the Amazon Basin1,2, but is increasingly threatened by deforestation and fire3,4. Here we quantify these impacts over the past two decades using remote-sensing estimates of fire and deforestation and comprehensive range estimates of 11,514 plant species and 3,079 vertebrate species in the Amazon. Deforestation has led to large amounts of habitat loss, and fires further exacerbate this already substantial impact on Amazonian biodiversity. Since 2001, 103,079–189,755 km2 of Amazon rainforest has been impacted by fires, potentially impacting the ranges of 77.3–85.2% of species that are listed as threatened in this region5. The impacts of fire on the ranges of species in Amazonia could be as high as 64%, and greater impacts are typically associated with species that have restricted ranges. We find close associations between forest policy, fire-impacted forest area and their potential impacts on biodiversity. In Brazil, forest policies that were initiated in the mid-2000s corresponded to reduced rates of burning. However, relaxed enforcement of these policies in 2019 has seemingly begun to reverse this trend: approximately 4,253–10,343 km2 of forest has been impacted by fire, leading to some of the most severe potential impacts on biodiversity since 2009. Thesemore »results highlight the critical role of policy enforcement in the preservation of biodiversity in the Amazon.« less