, Volume 9, Issue 10, pp 1441-1466

The use of specimen-label databases for conservation purposes: an example using Mexican Papilionid and Pierid butterflies

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Abstract

In recent years, use of databases of the labels of specimens deposited in museums and herbaria is becoming increasingly common as a tool for addressing biodiversity conservation and management problems. These databases are often large in size and complex in structure, and their application to conservation deserves a wider appreciation of some of the biases, gaps and potential pitfalls common to them. In this paper, we discuss some of the problems associated with using such databases for obtaining lists of species for arbitrary sites, as well as for the estimation of the distribution area of single species. The possibility of obtaining these closely related variables using specimen databases is shown to be scale-dependent. A tool based on mark-recapture techniques is applied to the problem of: (i) detecting sites with low number of species due to lack of adequate in-site sampling and, (ii) species with small estimated areas due to poor spatial coverage of samples.