[Taxacom] Who uses biodiversity data and why? GBIF Responses

Rob Guralnick Robert.Guralnick at colorado.edu
Mon Dec 4 19:54:51 CST 2006

> I am also surprised that you seem to see so much potential in 110,588,578 
> occurrence records, i.e. the bigger the number, the greater the usefulness. 
> Every biodiversity conservation effort I've been involved with has dealt 
> with rare and geographically restricted taxa. Prior to these efforts, there 
> were no or very few occurrence records for the taxa concerned, because a 
> majority of occurrence records are for common and/or widespread species. In 
> order to plan successful conservation, large numbers of _new_ occurrence 
> records had to be obtained by diligent field work. By the time these records 
> entered local museum databases, the conservation plan was already in place.
    Bob and Taxacomers ---

    This is an important topic to hash out, and I worry that no response 
to Bob's comments will be taken as implicit agreement rather than 
"argument exhaustion".   I truly disagree with Bob's views here, and for 
me it comes down to a simple point:   If one is interested in 
conservation or biodiversity at local levels, there is absolutely no 
compelling reason why one shouldn't determine the past sampling in the 
local region of interest by accessing GBIF data.  To do so is 
effectively zero-effort.   How many of you would spend the effort, 
money, gas, and wear and tear on the environment doing needless 
fieldwork when the data to do good research and make good management 
decisions already exists?  The rapidity at which we are losing 
biodiversity requires us to be more efficient with our time and 
resources.  In cases where more fieldwork is required, lets use the 
existing occurrence data to make good choices about how to effectively 
choose new sites.  Lets do what makes sense given what we already 
know.   And lets not presume or make blanket statements about the sample 
quality or usefulness of our global biodiversity registry - lets go out 
there and test what we can legitimately do with it and how it will help 
us more quickly make a wise policy of conservation and development. 

Best, Rob
Dr. Rob Guralnick
Curator and Asst. Professor
CU Museum and Dept. of Ecol. and Evol. Biol.
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder CO 80309-0265

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