Hierarchical representation of species distributions using maps, images, and sighting data

TitleHierarchical representation of species distributions using maps, images, and sighting data
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsHollander, AD, Davis, FW, Stoms, DM
EditorMiller, RI
Book TitleMapping the Diversity of Nature
PublisherChapman and Hall
Keywordsdata hypercube, orange-throated whiptail

Geographic Information Systems technology permits the generation of complex representations of species distributions, while most of the data underlying these patterns are coarse. This suggests the importance of structuring such data along axes of differing data extent, tiling schemes, themes, and time, and displaying different representations of distributions, the philosophy being that comparison of multiple representations provides a sense of the actual distribution through convergence of evidence. We present an example using a lizard, the orange-throated whiptail (Cnemidophorus hyperythrus), which is native to southern California. The analysis was hierarchically structured by first mapping overall lizard range limits, then suitable habitats within the range, and then habitats over a local extent. Data sources include a generalized range outline, museum records, and field observations, as well as climate data, vegetation maps, and satellite imagery to serve as associated environmental variables. Comparison of representations resulting from these different data sources makes biases evident, highlights areas of inadequate sampling, and can lead to new inferences about habitat relationships. Finally, we discuss forthcoming improvements in the technology that will facilitate creation and display of families of models.