Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 119–139

Geographic sampling bias in the South African Frog Atlas Project: implications for conservation planning

  • Emily A. Botts
  • Barend F. N. Erasmus
  • Graham J. Alexander
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-010-9950-6

Cite this article as:
Botts, E.A., Erasmus, B.F.N. & Alexander, G.J. Biodivers Conserv (2011) 20: 119. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9950-6


Quality conservation planning requires quality input data. However, the broad scale sampling strategies typically employed to obtain primary species distribution data are prone to geographic bias in the form of errors of omission. This study provides a quantitative measure of sampling bias to inform accuracy assessment of conservation plans based on the South African Frog Atlas Project. Significantly higher sampling intensity near to cities and roads is likely to result in overstated conservation priority and heightened conservation conflicts in urban areas. Particularly well sampled protected areas will also erroneously appear to contribute highly to amphibian biodiversity targets. Conversely, targeted sampling in the arid northwest and along mountain ranges is needed to ensure that these under-sampled regions are not excluded from conservation plans. The South African Frog Atlas Project offers a reasonably accurate picture of the broad scale west-to-east increase in amphibian richness and abundance, but geographic bias may limit its applicability for fine scale conservation planning. The Global Amphibian Assessment species distribution data offered a less biased alternative, but only at the cost of inflated commission error.


Biodiversity Biological atlas Conservation planning Geographic sampling bias South African Frog Atlas Project 



South African Frog Atlas Project


Quarter Degree Grid Cell


Global Amphibian Assessment

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily A. Botts
    • 1
  • Barend F. N. Erasmus
    • 1
  • Graham J. Alexander
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Animal, Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa