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Keywords:

  • Anurans;
  • Cerrado;
  • biodiversity knowledge;
  • conservation planning

ABSTRACT

Knowledge about biodiversity remains inadequate because most species living on Earth were still not formally described (the Linnean shortfall) and because geographical distributions of most species are poorly understood and usually contain many gaps (the Wallacean shortfall). In this paper, we developed models to infer the size and placement of geographical ranges of hypothetical non-described species, based on the range size frequency distribution of anurans recently described in the Cerrado Biome, on the level of knowledge (number of inventories) and on surrogates for habitat suitability. The rationale for these models is as follow: (1) the range size frequency distribution of these species should be similar to the range-restricted species, which have been most recently described in the Cerrado Biome; (2) the probability of new discoveries will increase in areas with low biodiversity knowledge, mainly in suitable areas, and (3) assuming range continuity, new species should occupy adjacent cells only if the level of knowledge is low enough to allow the existence of undiscovered species. We ran a model based on the number of inventories only, and two models combining effects of number of inventories and two different estimates of habitat suitability, for a total of 100 replicates each. Finally, we performed a complementary analysis using simulated annealing to solve the set-covering problem for each simulation (i.e. finding the smallest number of cells so that all species are represented at least once), using extents of occurrence of 160 species (131 real anuran species plus 29 new simulated species). The revised reserve system that included information about unknown or poorly sampled taxa significantly shifted northwards, when compared to a system based on currently known species. This main result can be explained by the paucity of biodiversity data in this part of the biome, associated with its relatively high habitat suitability. As a precautionary measure, weighted by the inferred distribution data, the prioritization of a system of reserves in the north part of the biome appears to be defensible.