Extending Marine Species Distribution Maps Using Non-Traditional Sources
Traditional sources of species occurrence data such as peer-reviewed journal articles and museum-curated collections are included in species databases after rigorous review by species experts and evaluators. The distribution maps created in this process are an important component of species survival evaluations, and are used to adapt, extend and sometimes contract polygons used in the distribution mapping process.
During an IUCN Red List Gulf of Mexico Fishes Assessment Workshop held at The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, a session included an open discussion on the topic of including other sources of species occurrence data. During the last decade, advances in portable electronic devices and applications enable 'citizen scientists' to record images, location and data about species sightings, and submit that data to larger species databases. These applications typically generate point data. Attendees of the workshop expressed an interest in how that data could be incorporated into existing datasets, how best to ascertain the quality and value of that data, and what other alternate data sources are available. This paper addresses those issues, and provides recommendations to ensure quality data use.