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Title: Using anecdotal occurrence data for rare or elusive species: the illusion of reality and a call for evidentiary standards

Author: McKelvey, Kevin S.; Aubry, Keith B.; Schwartz, Michael K.

Date: 2008

Source: BioScience. 58(6): 549-555

Publication Series: Journal/Magazine Article (JRNL)

Description: Anecdotal occurrence data (unverifiable observations of organisms or their sign) and inconclusive physical data are often used to assess the current and historical ranges of rare or elusive species. However, the use of such data for species conservation can lead to large errors of omission and commission, which can influence the allocation of limited funds and the efficacy of subsequent conservation efforts. We present three examples of biological misunderstandings, all of them with significant conservation implications, that resulted from the acceptance of anecdotal observations as empirical evidence. To avoid such errors, we recommend that priority standards constrain the acceptance of occurrence data, with more stringent standards applied to the data for rare species. Because data standards are likely to be taxon specific, professional societies should develop specific evidentiary standards to use when assessing occurrence data for their taxa of interest.

Keywords: Anecdotal, evidentiary standards, fisher, ivory-billed woodpecker, wolverine

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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McKelvey, Kevin S.; Aubry, Keith B.; Schwartz, Michael K. 2008. Using anecdotal occurrence data for rare or elusive species: the illusion of reality and a call for evidentiary standards. BioScience. 58(6): 549-555

 


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