LIfemapper like prediction of ranges
This note is a follow-up to my comments about the Flora of the Southeast maps.
Given that the primary purpose of the county record maps seems to be to give an indication of the distribution of a taxon, it would be nice to have a layer of the Flora of the Southeast map that could be turned on to indicate the probable range of the taxon, i.e. that would fill in counties where it is likely to
be present, but is not yet represented by specimens in a collection. This could be accomplished in several ways:
1. The old fashioned way: convert published range maps (where they exist) into FIPS codes.
2. The high tech way: use some kind of algorithm based on climate, known distributions of habitats, or subdivisions of ecoregions to have the computer fill in the spaces using the reported records to predict.
3. Have knowledgeable botanists from each state or region fill in the blanks between the specimen data based on their best guess.
The best approach would probably be some combination of the above: use range maps if they are available and use number 2 if they aren't. Number 3 could be a quality control process to correct #1 and #2 if necessary. I think that this would be very beneficial if these maps are at some point going to be used by the general public and not just by herbarium curators (who would have the knowledge and experience to mentally fill in the gaps). It would also be beneficial in the development of identification tools to make available a matrix of taxon vs. FIPS codes of likely counties so that taxa that are not likely to be found in the user's location could be eliminated. If only vouchered locations were included, then ubiquitous species would be
wrongly eliminated if no one had bothered to collect them in the user's county.
The system is very cool and I enjoyed playing with it. I hope UT will eventually contribute TN data to the project because they have very good vouchered data that I would like to see incorporated into the bigger
Steven J. Baskauf, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Vanderbilt University Dept. of Biological Sciences
postal mail address:
VU Station B 351634
Nashville, TN 37235-1634, U.S.A.
2125 Stevenson Center
1161 21st Ave., S.
Nashville, TN 37235