Infomap Bioregions: Interactive Mapping of Biogeographical Regions from Species Distributions

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Edler, Daniel
Guedes, Thais [UNIFESP]
Zizka, Alexander
Rosvall, Martin
Antonelli, Alexandre
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Biogeographical regions (bioregions) reveal how different sets of species are spatially grouped and therefore are important units for conservation, historical biogeography, ecology, and evolution. Several methods have been developed to identify bioregions based on species distribution data rather than expert opinion. One approach successfully applies network theory to simplify and highlight the underlying structure in species distributions. However, this method lacks tools for simple and efficient analysis. Here, we present Infomap Bioregions, an interactive web application that inputs species distribution data and generates bioregion maps. Species distributions may be provided as georeferenced point occurrences or range maps, and can be of local, regional, or global scale. The application uses a novel adaptive resolution method to make best use of often incomplete species distribution data. The results can be downloaded as vector graphics, shapefiles, or in table format. We validate the tool by processing large data sets of publicly available species distribution data of the world's amphibians using species ranges, and mammals using point occurrences. We then calculate the fit between the inferred bioregions and WWF ecoregions. As examples of applications, researchers can reconstruct ancestral ranges in historical biogeography or identify indicator species for targeted conservation.
Systematic Biology. Oxford, v. 66, n. 2, p. 197-204, 2017.