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Atlas versus range maps: robustness of chorological relationships to distribution data types in European mammals

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Aim  Chorological relationships describe the patterns of distributional overlap among species. In addition to revealing biogeographical structure, the resulting clusters of species with similar geographical distributions can serve as natural units in conservation planning. Here, we assess the extent to which temporal, methodological and taxonomical differences in the source of species’ distribution data can affect the relationships that are found.

Location  Western Europe.

Methods  We used two data sets – the Atlas of European mammals and polygon range maps from the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment – both as presence–absence data for UTM 50 km × 50 km squares. We performed pairwise comparisons among 156 species for each data set to build matrices of the similarity in distribution across species, using both Jaccard’s and Baroni‐Urbani & Buser’s indices. We then compared these similarity matrices (chorological relationships), as well as the species richness and occurrence patterns from the two data sets.

Results  As expected, range maps increased both the mean prevalence per species and mean species richness per grid cell in comparison to atlas data, reflecting the general view that these data types respectively over‐ and underestimate species occurrence. However, species richness and occurrence patterns in atlas and range map data were positively associated and, most importantly, the chorological relationships underlying the two data sets were highly similar.

Main conclusions  Despite many methodological, temporal and taxonomical differences between atlas data and range maps, the chorological relationships encountered between species were similar for both data sets. Chorological analyses can thus be robust to the data source used and provide a solid basis for analytical biogeographical studies, even over broad spatial scales.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain 2: Grupo de Biogeografía, Diversidad y Conservación, Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, 29071 Málaga, Spain 3: Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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