'Citizen science' yields updated predicted distributions for rare species | EurekAlert! Science News
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-08-09
"Online "citizen science" data initiatives may be able to help map the distribution of rare species in the wild, according to a study published August 8 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Yifu Wang of McGill University and colleagues. Species distribution maps are essential tools for understanding an organism's ecology, forecasting how it will be affected by climate change and other activities, and planning management strategies. But detailed knowledge of most species' ranges is lacking, since the number of professional field biologists contributing information and specimens to museum collections--the principle source of range information--has been small. Further, as the climate changes, ranges shift, and professional observations to track those shifts is rarer still. To test the potential of online citizen scientist observations to contribute to detailed species mapping, the authors combined information from online databases containing observations by citizen scientists and museum collections for two spider species, the Northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) and the Black purse-web spider (Sphodros niger). They modeled distribution for each, using a variety of statistical tests and modeling tools to remove questionable observations and increase the validity of the final range prediction model. They also compared current predicted range to historical range to test for the occurrence of range shift over time...."