Biodiversity informatics: managing and applying primary biodiversity data

Jorge Soberón, Townsend Peterson

Abstract

Recently, advances in information technology and an increased willingness to share primary biodiversity data are enabling unprecedented access to it. By combining presences of species data with electronic cartography via a number of algorithms, estimating niches of species and their areas of distribution becomes feasible at resolutions one to three orders of magnitude higher than it was possible a few years ago. Some examples of the power of that technique are presented. For the method to work, limitations such as lack of high-quality taxonomic determination, precise georeferencing of the data and availability of high-quality and updated taxonomic treatments of the groups must be overcome. These are discussed, together with comments on the potential of these biodiversity informatics techniques not only for fundamental studies but also as a way for developing countries to apply state of the art bioinformatic methods and large quantities of data, in practical ways, to tackle issues of biodiversity management.