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Patterns, biases and prospects in the distribution and diversity of Neotropical snakes

Guedes, Thaís B., Sawaya, Ricardo J., Zizka, Alexander, Laffan, Shawn, Faurby, Søren, Pyron, R. Alexander, Bérnils, Renato S., Jansen, Martin, Passos, Paulo, Prudente, Ana L. C., Cisneros‐Heredia, Diego F., Braz, Henrique B., Nogueira, Cristiano de C., Antonelli, Alexandre
Global ecology and biogeography 2018 v.27 no.1 pp. 14-21
Neotropics, Serpentes, computer software, data collection, databases, ectothermy, endothermy, geographic information systems, geographical distribution, herpetofauna, phylogeny, snakes, species diversity, universities, Amazonia, North America, South America
MOTIVATION: We generated a novel database of Neotropical snakes (one of the world's richest herpetofauna) combining the most comprehensive, manually compiled distribution dataset with publicly available data. We assess, for the first time, the diversity patterns for all Neotropical snakes as well as sampling density and sampling biases. MAIN TYPES OF VARIABLES CONTAINED: We compiled three databases of species occurrences: a dataset downloaded from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), a verified dataset built through taxonomic work and specialized literature, and a combined dataset comprising a cleaned version of the GBIF dataset merged with the verified dataset. SPATIAL LOCATION AND GRAIN: Neotropics, Behrmann projection equivalent to 1° × 1°. TIME PERIOD: Specimens housed in museums during the last 150 years. MAJOR TAXA STUDIED: Squamata: Serpentes. SOFTWARE FORMAT: Geographical information system (GIS). RESULTS: The combined dataset provides the most comprehensive distribution database for Neotropical snakes to date. It contains 147,515 records for 886 species across 12 families, representing 74% of all species of snakes, spanning 27 countries in the Americas. Species richness and phylogenetic diversity show overall similar patterns. Amazonia is the least sampled Neotropical region, whereas most well‐sampled sites are located near large universities and scientific collections. We provide a list and updated maps of geographical distribution of all snake species surveyed. MAIN CONCLUSIONS: The biodiversity metrics of Neotropical snakes reflect patterns previously documented for other vertebrates, suggesting that similar factors may determine the diversity of both ectothermic and endothermic animals. We suggest conservation strategies for high‐diversity areas and sampling efforts be directed towards Amazonia and poorly known species.