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Forskningsartikel2020Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Cannot see the diversity for all the species: Evaluating inclusion criteria for local species lists when using abundant citizen science data

Ruete, Alejandro; Arlt, Debora; Berg, Ake; Knape, Jonas; Zmihorski, Michal; Part, Tomas


Abundant citizen science data on species occurrences are becoming increasingly available and enable identifying composition of communities occurring at multiple sites with high temporal resolution. However, for species displaying temporary patterns of local occurrences that are transient to some sites, biodiversity measures are clearly dependent on the criteria used to include species into local species lists. Using abundant opportunistic citizen science data from frequently visited wetlands, we investigated the sensitivity of alpha- and beta-diversity estimates to the use raw versus detection-corrected data and to the use of inclusion criteria for species presence reflecting alternative site use. We tested seven inclusion criteria (with varying number of days required to be present) on time series of daily occurrence status during a breeding season of 90 days for 77 wetland bird species. We show that even when opportunistic presence-only observation data are abundant, raw data may not produce reliable local species richness estimates and rank sites very differently in terms of species richness. Furthermore, occupancy model based alpha- and beta-diversity estimates were sensitive to the inclusion criteria used. Total species lists (all species observed at least once during a season) may therefore mask diversity differences among sites in local communities of species, by including vagrant species on potentially breeding communities and change the relative rank order of sites in terms of species richness. Very high sampling effort does not necessarily free opportunistic data from its inherent bias and can produce a pattern in which many species are observed at least once almost everywhere, thus leading to a possible paradox: The large amount of biological information may hinder its usefulness. Therefore, when prioritizing among sites to manage or preserve species diversity estimates need to be carefully related to relevant inclusion criteria depending on the diversity estimate in focus.


biodiversity; citizen science data; GBIF; migratory birds; occupancy model; opportunistic observations; presence-only data; primary biodiversity data; site use; Swedish Species Gateway

Publicerad i

Ecology and Evolution
2020, Volym: 10, nummer: 18, sidor: 10057-10065
Utgivare: WILEY