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A simple method for assessing the completeness of a geographic range size estimate

Lookup NU author(s): Garima Gupta, Dr Roy SandersonORCiD, Professor Philip McGowan



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 The Authors. Measuring geographic range size is a fundamental part of ecology and conservation. Geographic range size is used as a criterion by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in estimating species extinction risk. Yet the geographic distributions of many threatened species are poorly documented, and it is often unclear whether a geographic range size estimate is complete. Here we use a large and near-exhaustive database of species occurrences to (i) estimate extent of occurrence (a measure of geographic range size routinely used in Red List assessments), and (ii) develop a method to assess whether our estimate for each species is complete. We use an extensive database of point locality records for 24 Himalayan Galliformes, a group of highly threatened bird species. We examine the chronological pattern of increase of geographic range size estimates and compare this accumulation curve with a null model generated by performing 1000 iterations for each species using the point locality information in random order. Using Generalised Estimation Equations (GEE) and Generalised Least Square (GLS), we show that estimates of geographic range size for most species has now asymptoted, and that the range size estimates have improved more rapidly over time than expected by chance, suggesting relatively efficient sampling over time. The approach used in this study can be used as a simple method for assessing the completeness of a geographic range size estimates for any taxon.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gupta G, Dunn J, Sanderson R, Fuller R, McGowan PJK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Global Ecology and Conservation

Year: 2020

Volume: 21

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 27/09/2019

Acceptance date: 13/09/2019

Date deposited: 04/11/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2351-9894

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00788


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