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Research article2019Peer reviewed

High correlation between species-level environmental data estimates extracted from IUCN expert range maps and from GBIF occurrence data

Alhajeri, Bader H.; Fourcade, Yoan


Aim The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) expert range maps and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) species occurrence data are commonly used to estimate species' geographic range. Macroecological studies often cross-reference geographic range data with a climate dataset, to extract the mean environmental conditions encountered by a species within its geographic range. We aimed to assess the consistency of the environmental data estimates derived from IUCN versus GBIF geographic range data, and to test whether such differences may affect estimates of ecogeographical relationships, such as Bergmann's rule. Location Worldwide. Time period Around 2000. Taxa Rodents (Rodentia). Methods We first assessed the correlation between environmental data estimates (19 bioclimatic variables and elevation) derived from IUCN versus GBIF geographic range data of 1,315 rodent species, comparing how range size, conservation status, habitat, zoogeographic realm or elevation changed these correlations. Then, we compared the association between body mass and climate (mean temperature and precipitation) when the latter are derived from IUCN or GBIF data. Results There was high correlation between environmental data estimates derived from IUCN versus GBIF data, especially when excluding GBIF occurrences outside of IUCN polygons. Species' characteristics, or using the mean or median, did not change the consistency between estimates. Overall, GBIF occurrence data and IUCN range maps produced similar patterns of body mass-climate correlations. Main conclusions At the large spatial and taxonomic scale employed in this study, there does not seem to be any considerable differences in the average environmental data estimates derived from IUCN versus GBIF geographic range data. This result indicates that both sources of geographic range data could be used independently or in concert for macroecological inferences that involve summarizing species' niches by a single estimate of the average of their used environments.


Bergmann's rule; body size; climate; environmental data; GBIF occurrence data; geographic range; IUCN expert range maps; macroecology; rodents (Rodentia); temperature

Published in

Journal of Biogeography
2019, Volume: 46, number: 7, pages: 1329-1341
Publisher: WILEY

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