Lobo, J.M., Baselga, A., Hortal, J., Jimenez-Valverde, A. & Gómez, J.F. (2007) How does the knowledge about the spatial distribution of Iberian dung beetle species accumulate over time? Diversity and Distributions, 13, 772–780. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00383.x
Different distribution maps can be obtained for the same species if localities where species are present are mapped at different times. We analysed the accumulation of information over time for a group of dung beetle species in the Iberian Peninsula. To do this, we used all available information about the distribution of the group as well as data on selected species to examine if the process of discovery of species distribution has occurred in a climatically or spatially structured fashion. Our results show the existence of a well-defined pattern of temporal growth in distributional information; due to this, the date of capture of each specimen can be explained by the environmental and spatial variables associated to the collection sites. We hypothesize that such temporal biases could be the rule rather than the exception in most distributional data. These biases could affect the weighting of environmental factors that influence species distributions, as well as the accuracy of predictive distribution models. Systematic surveys should be a priority for the description of species geographical ranges in order to make robust predictions about the consequences of habitat and climate change for their persistence and conservation.