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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52786. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052786. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

A novel method to handle the effect of uneven sampling effort in biodiversity databases.

Author information

  • 1Conservation of Biodiversity, Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (CSIC), Zaragoza, Spain. iker.pardo@ipe.csic.es

Abstract

How reliable are results on spatial distribution of biodiversity based on databases? Many studies have evidenced the uncertainty related to this kind of analysis due to sampling effort bias and the need for its quantification. Despite that a number of methods are available for that, little is known about their statistical limitations and discrimination capability, which could seriously constrain their use. We assess for the first time the discrimination capacity of two widely used methods and a proposed new one (FIDEGAM), all based on species accumulation curves, under different scenarios of sampling exhaustiveness using Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analyses. Additionally, we examine to what extent the output of each method represents the sampling completeness in a simulated scenario where the true species richness is known. Finally, we apply FIDEGAM to a real situation and explore the spatial patterns of plant diversity in a National Park. FIDEGAM showed an excellent discrimination capability to distinguish between well and poorly sampled areas regardless of sampling exhaustiveness, whereas the other methods failed. Accordingly, FIDEGAM values were strongly correlated with the true percentage of species detected in a simulated scenario, whereas sampling completeness estimated with other methods showed no relationship due to null discrimination capability. Quantifying sampling effort is necessary to account for the uncertainty in biodiversity analyses, however, not all proposed methods are equally reliable. Our comparative analysis demonstrated that FIDEGAM was the most accurate discriminator method in all scenarios of sampling exhaustiveness, and therefore, it can be efficiently applied to most databases in order to enhance the reliability of biodiversity analyses.

PMID:
23326357
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3543413
Free PMC Article

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