17.04.2019 | TOP NEWS, Sustainability and Complexity in Ape Habitat

Taxon-specific databases are essential for filling biodiversity data gaps

The website of the data base is hosted at the MPI EVA (image: IUCN SSC A.P.E.S.).

The website of the data base is hosted at the MPI EVA (image: IUCN SSC A.P.E.S.).

The study focused on the western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), a critically endangered subspecies (photo: Sonja Metzger / WCF).

The study focused on the western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), a critically endangered subspecies (photo: Sonja Metzger / WCF).

By focusing on a group of organisms, taxon-specific databases make a broad range of high-quality data accessible

Report by Stefanie Heinicke, scientist at MPI EVA & iDiv and first author of a new study in Environmental Research Letters


Leipzig. We used data from the IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. database, to show the wealth of information that can be derived from a database that focuses on a specific group of organisms. For this study we focused on the western chimpanzee, a critically endangered subspecies of chimpanzees. Many taxon-specific databases already exist, but are largely underfunded. These databases are, however, in a unique position to fill the niche between local data collectors and global data bases to contribute to closing the large gaps in biodiversity data that still persist. More and more data on patterns and trends of biodiversity are becoming available. However, even though a lot of data have been and are being collected, they are often not accessible to researchers, decision-makers, planners and conservation practitioners.

Various databases have been established that centrally store datasets, and organize and quality-check them so that the data can be accessed and used by others. Global databases store data from all around the world covering all types of organisms. In contrast, databases that specialize on a specific group of organisms can focus on getting more detailed information. Thereby, specialized databases can complement the efforts of global databases in making data available.

For example, by using data from the IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. database we were now for the first time able to estimate that approximately 52,800 chimpanzees (95% confidence interval: 17,577-96,564 chimpanzees) occur in West Africa. We also created maps that show in which areas there are likely high densities or low densities of chimpanzees. This can be used to identify areas that need more protection or where habitat destruction should be avoided.

A lot of taxon-specific databases already exist. Although they are fundamental in providing access to the type of data needed for decision-making and conservation planning, they are often strongly underfunded. The contribution of these databases needs to be recognized, and more databases should be established to make the available data accessible to researchers, planners and decision-makers. We suggest that a network of taxon-specific databases should be created that grows step by step. Within the network each database pools the data and expertise of its respective field, and users can retrieve data available across the entire network via a central portal.
Stefanie Heinicke

 

Original publication:
(iDiv scientists bold)

Stefanie Heinicke,
Roger Mundry, Christophe Boesch, Bala Amarasekaran, Abdulai Barrie, Terry Brncic, David Brugière, Geneviève Campbell, Joana Carvalho, Emmanuel Danquah, Dervla Dowd, Henk Eshuis, Marie-Claire Fleury-Brugière, Joel Gamys, Jessica Ganas, Sylvain Gatti, Laura Ginn, Annemarie Goedmakers, Nicolas Granier, Ilka Herbinger, Annika Hillers, Sorrel Jones, Jessica Junker, Célestin Y. Kouakou, Vincent Lapeyre, Vera Leinert, Fiona Maisels, Sergio Marrocoli, Mary Molokwu-Odozi, Paul K. N’Goran, Liliana Pacheco, Sébastien Regnaut, Tenekwetche Sop, Els Ton, Joost van Schijndel, Virginie Vergnes, Maria Voigt, Adam Welsh, Erin G. Wessling, Elizabeth A. Williamson, Hjalmar S. Kühl (2019) Advancing conservation planning for western chimpanzees using IUCN SSC A.P.E.S. – the case of a taxon-specific database. Environmental Research Letters, DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab1379

Contact:

Dr. Hjalmar S. Kühl

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel. +49 341 3550-236
Email: kuehl@eva.mpg.de
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/kuehl_hjalmar.html

Stefanie Heinicke
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel. +49 341 3550-282
Email: stefanie_heinicke@eva.mpg.de
https://www.idiv.de/en/groups_and_people/employees/details/eshow/heinicke_stefanie.html

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