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BITC / Biodiversity Diagnoses - Richness and Endemism 1

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OK, so what we've been doing so far this week is to take some big data sets, and play with them, clean them up, and most of all we've been looking for holes in thsm. We've been looking for what we don't know. Today, we begin to switch gears a bit, and talk about what we DO know. OK, that is to say, now, we're not talking about inadequate sampling and incomplete sampling. Instead, we're talking about what the biology and the interesting things in there are... So, obviously, we still have some challenges in getting from those incomplete data to the biology lessons. Diversity patterns, things like that. So we're going to take the morning to talk about that most common product that you get out of these biodiversity diagnoses: a map of diversity, a map of endemism Later on, you get to things like conservation prioritizations, that has already been the subject of a one-day course in a previous meeting of this group. So, all we're going to do is to start to talk about diversity and endemism. And just as a preface to the day, I just wanted to throw out some ideas about richness and endemism, and the main point is: get your concepts right. Get your thinking clear. Now, it may well be that I go through a pretty short presentation about this, and Arturo, who's going to speak next, has some very different ideas. That's fine. The important thing is to be explicit But I'll give you some examples of things that aren't fine. So, if you look at the usual products, the one that clearly dominates on the Internet is Conservation International's "Hotspots of Biodiversity." Anybody know what a hotspot is? [comment from class participant] ... What is it? [from participant ... A hotspot is an ecosystem where you might find a rich biodiversity] OK, so rich and large biodiversity. That sounds right to ME. OK ... but now look at the map ... Look, just for example ... it's a little hard ... By the way, tomorrow we'll be talking about making figures, and one of the things we'll talk about is never ever putting red and green together because 10% of the people in the world see gray and gray So, a really bad map here ... But I always thought that the Amazon had really great biodiversity. But there's no hotspot of biodiversity in the Amazon ... hmmmm. And look at that ... the Congo, and in fact Africa, the biodiversity hotspots are West Africa the Gulf of Guinea, the Atlas Mountains [Morocco] and the northeast. Does that make sense? I mean, I kind of want to see something just west of here. I don't see any of the tepuis [northeastern South America] So what IS a hotspot? Anybody know what Conservation International does with "hotspots"? High plant diversity combined with great endangerment. That ends up mixing two quantities So you end up with quite a mish-mash. And sometimes maps are more effective at politics or fundraising, than they are at communicating biology. Here's another one we've heard: megadiverse countries. And those countries that got on the list are always saying, We're a megadiverse country, and you're nothing Look at that: in Africa, in fact, we have no one [participant] from any of those three countries, if I am correct So none of you comes from a particularly interesting country as far as biodiversity is concerned. The US, of course, got on the list I don't really know why. Again, this is ... what is "megadiverse"? Is it lots of species? Is it lots of unique species? This is where we get into trouble, over and over again. I went a little deeper... I went beyond the fundraising pages. For instance, Nature Conservancy has these pages... Numbers of bird species ... a kind of useful map ... and then goes on to number of endemic species There's a pick list [points to screen] where you can do all these different maps So, number of endemic species--I found that one really interesting. Endemic species of WHAT? Microbes? Plants? Nematodes? I couldn't find any definition ... only 70? And then my big question of the day is ... what is "endemic"? Let's see ... I'm going to ask two different people for definitions ... Moses, what's an "endemic"? [For example] when we say "this is endemic to the Cameroon Mountains," what does that mean? [Moses] Endemic means that a particular species occurs in the particular area, and it's only found there. thank you Lindsay, in your world, what is "endemic"? ... in the public health world? [Lindsay] It would be if you have a disease in an area and it's always present It's just constantly there. [Town] So it's established there So you see once again, we have problems, and in fact -- that's public health vs biodiversity Even within the biodiversity world, we don't get it right Before I get back to that, I want to mention a couple of other things. Global patterns of species richness in a recent paper that got a fair amount of press You see these patterns for terrestrial mammals and marine mammals, and terrestrial birds, and such and such and such. Global patterns of species richness mapped for 13 marine and terrestrial taxa For each taxon we outlined biodiversity hotspots of the top 10 most species-rich places on Earth Those are the bold lines, in black Interesting, look at this ... For mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, marine fishes, cephalopods, corals, mangroves, and sea grasses, We used "expert-verified geographical ranges" So this is what I call "smart people with crayons." Right? For terrestrial vascular plants, we used the number of species in different regions, and calculated species richness as the highest number of species occurring in the regions intersecting hundred-kilometer grid cells. So notice, again, that we're mixing things up but losing the clarity of what is what. So we get into a lot of trouble... first of all, what is biodiversity? Some of you know Jorge Soberon. Jorge was recently heard to say that whoever it was who invented the word "biodiversity" should be shot. But we can ask these questions of what is species diversity and what is endemism. Those key terms that we use as our key currency in this field. I am going to leave most of these points to Arturo but I want to give you just a little bit more of an illustration on this term "endemic." OK, you already heard Lindsay's definition regularly found among particular people or in a certain area. so "areas where malaria is endemic" Or, for biodiversity, native or restricted to a certain country or area so "endemic to Uganda," or "endemic to the Cameroon Mountains" Notice that I am saying that the species is found only in this particular place in this defined region, and not outside of it So if you look in the world of biodiversity information products, you can find this, which is a map of "endemic bird areas" OK, this is from BirdLife International This is a really interesting map. If you look at it ... if you sit and spend some time with it ... You see some really interesting things: there's a whole bunch of species found only in the southeastern USA but no endemic bird area there and let's go back to my favorite ones, the Congo and the Amazon and notice that there really aren't any endemic bird areas there, but the Amazon is FULL of species that are found only in the Amazon Africa does a little bit better under this definition Not a lot, but a little bit better the Congo is still pretty boring, OK, so what's going on: what IS an endemic bird area? well, the ought to be areas where species are confined to those areas this is from the same webpage... "worldwide, the most important places for habitat-based conservation of birds are the endemic bird areas" so, right away, we're doing marketing. Right? Most species are quite widespread, and have large ranges however, over 2500 species are restricted to an area smaller than 50,000 square kilometers and they are said to be endemic to it So a species is endemic to its own range. Right? What? I thought that endemism was relative to a region or a place, but here, a species is endemic to a certain number of square kilometers which is to say, every species on Earth, by this sort of definition, is endemic ... I would rather say that every species on Earth is endemic to Earth. That makes more sense with the definition that Moses just gave us What we're really hearing is that the criterion for endemism is 50,000 square kilometers If we can't understand each other when we use a single key word in scientific discussions, we're in a lot of trouble... what is richness? a lot of things. We're going to hear about that next. Perhaps a bit more explicitly in the literature what is richness? a big stinking mess I would say that the [quality of] the science that we do is a function of how clearly we think so, we're in trouble years and years ago, one of my students and I wrote this paper about the endemic bird areas and it was simply a commentary that we are using one term to refer to two very different concepts we gave this set of maps and essentially in each map we put two taxa so for example this is Psophia crepitans, the trumpeters look like a small chicken, usually mostly black and they are across the Amazon Basin, but the species are very much structured by river boundaries So Psophia crepitans is north of the Amazon, and Psophia leucoptera is between the Amazon and the Madeira and Psophia viridis is south and east of the Madeira and the Amazon but then this other set of things is the Atlapetes tricolor group which is ... dots are A. tricolor there's a triangle in there somewhere that is A. fuscoolivaceus and the plus sign is the entire range of A. flaviceps

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Duration: 15 minutes and 21 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: townpeterson on Jul 26, 2016

This talk was presented in the course on National Biodiversity Diagnoses, an advanced course focused on developing summaries of state of knowledge of particular taxa for countries and regions. The workshop was held in Entebbe, Uganda, during 12-17 January 2015. Workshop organized by the Biodiversity Informatics Training Curriculum, with funding from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation.

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