Many recent models of global trends in different aspects of biodiversity often assume that taxonomic changes and errors will have a minor effect on their estimates. This is based on the belief that these changes will be randomly distributed along the globe and the tree of life. However, taxonomic reorganizations are often uneven, both in space and along the phylogeny. Due to this, global estimates that do not account for the potential uncertainty in the taxonomic status may contain many unnoticed errors, and therefore may fail to represent the actual patterns of, e.g. species richness or diversification. In this commentary we use an example from the history of the species descriptions and revisions of Amazonian palms to show the potential importance of taxonomic uncertainty for species richness estimates. We call for incorporating metrics accounting for such uncertainty into global models.
About The Author
I am a biogeographer with broad interests in macroecology, community ecology, island biogeography, insect ecology, evolution, and biodiversity research. My main research aim is to determine why biodiversity – and in particular community structure – is geographically distributed the way it is, and to identify the processes that domain the spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological assemblages. I work as Scientific Researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Natural History Museum in Madrid (MNCN), a research institute of the Spanish Scientific Council (CSIC). I am also External Professor at the Departamento de Ecologia of the Federal University of Goiás (UFG) in Brazil, and Associate Researcher of the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c) of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal.
I am a biogeographer and community ecologist, working as scientific researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC).
I am also scientific collaborator at the Postgraduate Course on Ecology and Evolution of the Universidade Federal de Goiás and the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c) of the Universidade de Lisboa, and member of eBryo – Research Group on Experimental Bryology.