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Strengths and weaknesses of museum and national survey data sets for predicting regional species richness: comparative and combined approaches

Authors

  • Robert Guralnick,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Colorado Museum, University of Colorado. Boulder, CO 80309–0334, USA
      Correspondence: Robert Guralnick, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Colorado Museum, University of Colorado. Boulder, CO 80309–0334, USA. Tel.: 303-735-0178; E-mail: Robert.Guralnick@colorado.edu
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  • Jeremy Van Cleve

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Colorado Museum, University of Colorado. Boulder, CO 80309–0334, USA
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Correspondence: Robert Guralnick, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Colorado Museum, University of Colorado. Boulder, CO 80309–0334, USA. Tel.: 303-735-0178; E-mail: Robert.Guralnick@colorado.edu

ABSTRACT

We compiled three independent data sets of bird species occurrences in northeastern Colorado to test how predicted species richness compared to a combined analysis using all the data. The first data set was a georeferenced regional museum data set from two major repositories — the Denver Museum of Nature, and the Science and University of Colorado Museum. The two national survey data sets were the Breeding Bird Survey (summer), and the Great Backyard Bird Count (winter). Resulting analyses show that the museum data sets give richness estimates closest to the combined data set while exhibiting a skewed abundance distribution, whereas survey data sets do not accurately estimate overall richness even though they contain far more records. The combined data set allows the strengths of one data set to augment weaknesses in others. It is likely some museum data sets display skewed abundance distributions due to collectors’ potentially self-selecting under-represented species over common ones.

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