Perceptions of species abundance, distribution, and diversity: Lessons from four decades of sampling on a government-managed reserve

Environmental Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

We examined data relative to species abundance, distribution, and diversity patterns of reptiles and amphibians to determine how perceptions change over time and with level of sampling effort. Location data were compiled on more than one million individual captures or observations of 98 species during a 44-year study period on the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site National Environmental Research Park (SRS-NERP) in South Carolina. We suggest that perceptions of herpetofaunal species diversity are strongly dependent on level of effort and that land management decisions based on short-term data bases for some faunal groups could result in serious errors in environmental management. We provide evidence that acquiring information on biodiversity distribution patterns is compatible with multiyear spatially extensive research programs and also provide a perspective of what might be achieved if long-term, coordinated research efforts were instituted nationwide.

To conduct biotic surveys on government-managed lands, we recommend revisions in the methods used by government agencies to acquire and report biodiversity data. We suggest that government and industry employees engaged in biodiversity survey efforts develop proficiency in field identification for one or more major taxonomic groups and be encouraged to measure the status of populations quantitatively with consistent and reliable methodologies. We also suggest that widespread academic cooperation in the dissemination of information on regional patterns of biodiversity could result by establishment of a peer-reviewed, scientifically rigorous journal concerned with status and trends of the biota of the United States.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Perceptions of species abundance, distribution, and diversity: Lessons from four decades of sampling on a government-managed reserve
Series title Environmental Management
DOI 10.1007/s002679900025
Volume 21
Issue 2
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 259
Last page 268