Scientific publication

A fine-tuned global distribution dataset of marine forests

Credits: Photo by Shane Stagner on Unspash

In the quest to understand climate-induced range shifts across space and time, species distribution records serve as an essential foundation. However, the synthesis of data from diverse sources, including peer-reviewed literature, herbaria, digital repositories, and citizen science initiatives, is a task laden with challenges, both in terms of cost and time. Additionally, these datasets often suffer from thematic and taxonomic errors and lack standardized formats.

To bridge this critical gap, our team has focused on marine ecosystem-structuring species, specifically large brown algae and seagrasses. We have meticulously gathered distribution records from a multitude of sources and meticulously curated a refined dataset, comprising approximately 2.8 million dereplicated records. This dataset has been taxonomically standardized for a total of 682 species, taking into account essential physiological and biogeographical traits.

Our approach involves the implementation of a flagging system designed to identify potentially incorrect records. It does so by highlighting records reported on land, those situated in regions with insufficient light conditions for photosynthesis, and those located outside the known distribution range of species, as inferred from the most recent published literature. We have thoroughly documented our methodology and made the resulting dataset available in tabular format based on the Darwin Core Standard (DwC). Additionally, we provide a suite of functions in the R programming language, facilitating data management and visualization.

This initiative represents a significant step forward in enhancing the quality and reliability of species distribution data, thereby contributing to a more robust understanding of climate-induced range shifts and their implications for ecosystems. For researchers and enthusiasts alike, this resource promises to be a valuable asset in the pursuit of knowledge and conservation efforts.

Main reference

Assis, J., Fragkopoulou, E., Frade, D., Neiva, J., Oliveira, A., Abecasis, D., Faugeron, S., Serrão, E. A., Frade, D., Neiva, J., Oliveira, A., Abecasis, D., Faugeron, S., & Serrão, E. A. (2020). A fine-tuned global distribution dataset of marine forests. Scientific Data.

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Jorge Assis [PhD, Associate Researcher]
Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve [Faro, Portugal]
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