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Spatial knowledge deficiencies drive taxonomic and geographic selectivity in data deficiency

Zhao, Lina, Yang, Yuchang, Liu, Huiyuan, Shan, Zhangjian, Xie, Dan, Xu, Zheping, Li, Jinya
Biological conservation 2018
Spermatophytina, extinction, risk, species diversity, uncertainty, China
The uncertain threatened status inevitably influences the focus of conservation. Just as in extinction risk, the non-randomness phenomenon related to uncertainty (also referred to as selectivity), a certain character cluster in some groupings, also exists in data deficiency of species knowledge. In order to illustrate this kind of non-randomness phenomenon and explain the uncertainties caused by it, we performed hypergeometric test on taxonomic or geographic groupings of China's spermatophyte species and quantified two factors, frequency of collections events, and spatial accessibility, to indicate the primary causes of spatial knowledge deficiencies, respectively. We found that selectivity in data deficiency exists both taxonomically and geographically. 15 of the families showed more deficient than expected, which included 30.0% of species and 56.3% Data Deficient (DD). Among these, 8 families were statistically highly significant at p < 0.001, and included 25.2% of species and 50.0% DD. 46 families were less deficient than expected. With respect to floristic division, 4 of 29 floristic regions and subregions were more deficient than expected and 7 were less deficient than expected. In addition, DD species were disproportionately high and occurred in only a few centers of plant diversity known well. However, the largest proportion of the DD range had a low correlation with the richest DD spatial diversity. Moreover, we found the larger the DD ratio, the lower the frequency of collections and the poorer the spatial accessibility. Though the research, what we want to show is that the uncertainties associated with DD species will alter the non-randomness in the selectivity of data deficiency and affect the focus of conservation further. Only with a full understanding of the process and mechanisms of data deficiency can we determine where and what kind of actions are necessary to improve the knowledge on plant diversity.