As big biodiversity data accumulate in databases such as GBIF, it gets progressively more and more important to curate the data to discard or update records that do not meet the standards of quality required for a particular work, or that may be inaccurate or erroneous. This is can be a long and time-consuming work, but it can also change our perception about biodiversity patterns, as the elimination or inclusion of particular sets of data may result in different spatial, temporal or evolutionary distributions, and therefore can result in measuring different responses of diversity to environmental and geographical gradients.

In a new paper led by Cristina Ronquillo, we set up different levels of confidence and different types of data curation filters for the distribution records of moss species in the the northern haemisphere provided by GBIF. Then, we identify well-sampled areas (grid cells), and assess whether observed the shape of the latitudinal gradient of moss diversity changes between the sets of cells selected by progressively more stringent data curation scenarios. Despite some significant variations in the distribution of moss data, in this case they do not have strong effects on the measurements of the latitudinal gradient. There were however significant changes in the geographical location of the peak of species richness in Europo, thereby stressing the importance of assessing the quality of biodiversity data, and standardadizing the filters and methods used for data curation.

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