CracidMex1: a comprehensive database…

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CracidMex1: a comprehensive database of global occurrences of cracids (Aves, Galliformes) with distribution in Mexico


Cracids are among the most vulnerable groups of Neotropical birds. Almost half of the species of this family are included in a conservation risk category. Twelve taxa occur in Mexico, six of which are considered at risk at national level and two are globally endangered. Therefore, it is imperative that high quality, comprehensive, and high-resolution spatial data on the occurrence of these taxa are made available as a valuable tool in the process of defining appropriate management strategies for conservation at a local and global level. We constructed the CracidMex1 database by collating global records of all cracid taxa that occur in Mexico from available electronic databases, museum specimens, publications, “grey literature”, and unpublished records. We generated a database with 23,896 clean, validated, and standardized geographic records. Database quality control was an iterative process that commenced with the consolidation and elimination of duplicate records, followed by the geo-referencing of records when necessary, and their taxonomic and geographic validation using GIS tools and expert knowledge. We followed the geo-referencing protocol proposed by the Mexican National Commission for the Use and Conservation of Biodiversity. We could not estimate the geographic coordinates of 981 records due to inconsistencies or lack of sufficient information in the description of the locality. Given that current records for most of the taxa have some degree of distributional bias, with redundancies at different spatial scales, the CracidMex1 database has allowed us to detect areas where more sampling effort is required to have a better representation of the global spatial occurrence of these cracids. We also found that particular attention needs to be given to taxa identification in those areas where congeners or conspecifics co-occur in order to avoid taxonomic uncertainty. The construction of the CracidMex1 database represents the first comprehensive research effort to compile current, available global geographic records for a group of cracids. The database can now be improved by continuous revision and addition of new records. The CracidMex1 database will provide high quality input data that could be used to generate species distribution models, to assess temporal changes in species distributions, to identify priority areas for research and conservation, and in the definition of management strategies for this bird group. This compilation exercise could be replicated for other cracid groups or regions to attain a better knowledge of the global occurrences of the species in this vulnerable bird family.

Temporal coverages

Date range: 01-Jan-1700 - 25-Oct-2013

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Miguel Angel Martínez-Morales
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, unidad Campeche. Avenida Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial Lerma 24500 Campeche Campeche Mexico
Metadata author
Gonzalo Pinilla-Buitrago
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur Av. Rancho Polígono 2A, Ciudad Industrial Lerma 24500 Campeche Campeche Mexico
Administrative contact
Miguel Angel Martínez-Morales
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, unidad Campeche. Avenida Rancho Polígono 2-A, Ciudad Industrial Lerma 24500 Campeche Campeche Mexico


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Valid distributional records (22,731), based on the native distribution of taxa, cover distributions from southern Texas, USA, in the north, to Loja, more


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Other Contacts

Content provider
Fernando González-García
Instituto de Ecología, AC Carretera antigua a Coatepec No. 351, El Haya 91070 Xalapa Veracruz Mexico
Content provider
Paula L. Enríquez
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, unidad San Cristóbal Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, Barrio María Auxiliadora 29290 San Cristóbal de Las Casas Chiapas Mexico
Content provider
José Luis Rangel-Salazar
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, unidad San Cristóbal Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, Barrio María Auxiliadora 29290 San Cristóbal de Las Casas Chiapas Mexico
Content provider
Carlos Alberto Guichard Romero
Zoológico Miguel Álvarez del Toro Calzada Cerro Hueco s/n, Colonia Zapotal, Apartado Postal 6 29094 Tuxtla Gutiérrez Chiapas Mexico
Content provider
Adolfo G. Navarro-Sigüenza
Museo de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Apartado Postal 70-399 04510 México DF Mexico
Content provider
Tiberio César Monterrubio-Rico
Facultad de Biología, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo Edificio R, Ciudad Universitaria 58000 Morelia Michoacán Mexico
Content provider
Griselda Escalona-Segura
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur Av. Rancho Polígono 2A, Ciudad Industrial Lerma 24500 Campeche Campeche Mexico
Principal investigator
Miguel Angel Martínez-Morales

Taxonomic Coverage

The CracidMex1 database comprises 23,896 global records of 12 taxa of cracid species and subspecies with distribution in Mexico. This includes eight cracid species distributed in Mexico, out of the 54 recognized species in the Neotropical region (AOU 2014). The database also includes records of O. v. deschauenseei from the Utila Island, Honduras, and of two other subspecies of P. purpurascens (aequatorialis and brunnescens) which are not distributed in Mexico (Table 2). The genus Ortalis accounted for most of the records, followed by Penelope, Crax, Penelopina, and Oreophasis. This bias in records at a genus level is also mirrored at species level (Figure 1). However, at subspecies level this bias is not evident because only 19.9% of the records assignable to subspecies level are given to this taxonomic level (4.6% in O. vetula, 43.5% in P. purpurascens, and 100% in C. rubra).

Cracidae (Chachalacas, Guans, and Curassows)
Ortalis vetula, Ortalis wagleri, Ortalis poliocephala, Ortalis leucogastra, Penelope purpurascens, Penelopina nigra, Oreophasis derbianus, Crax rubra

Present and future distribution models of cracids occurring in Mexico

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Study area description

Valid distribution records are located in the northern portion of the Neotropical region, including the transitional zone with the Nearctic region. Native vegetation in this area ranges from tropical dry to humid forests, and from lowlands to montane forests. However, a large proportion of the native vegetation has been converted to pasture and agricultural areas. The expansion of human settlements, infrastructure, and mining have also contributed to forest degradation and deforestation in the region. Tropical forests have the largest net loss of forested area compared to other forest types in the world (FAO and JRC 2012), and the Neotropical region is not the exception. The study area includes the Mesoamerica biodiversity hotspot, the Chocó/Darién/Western Ecuador hotspot, and marginally the Tropical Andes hotspot (Myers et al. 2000), but these hotspots harbour only 20 to 25% of the original extent of primary vegetation. Given the current pattern of forest cover in the region, and the temporal coverage of records in the CracidMex1 database, many records, particularly older records, are now located outside of currently forested areas. This suggests a substantial reduction in the distribution of cracid species, particularly for those species restricted to primary forests (P. purpurascens, P. nigra, O. derbianus, and C. rubra). Habitat loss and hunting pressure are the main drivers of cracid population declines and distribution contractions, the synergy of which has caused the endangerment of these species (Silva and Strahl 1991, 1997; Brooks and Strahl 2000; del Hoyo and Motis 2004).

Design description

The construction of the CracidMex1 database aimed to gather most of the globally available records of cracids which are distributed in Mexico, in order to generate global species distribution models. We initiated the construction of the database by collating records from six electronic databases available through the Internet: GBIF <>, ORNIS <>, REMIB <>, UNIBIO <>, SpeciesLink <>, and IBC <>. Additionally, we obtained records from the National System of Information on Biodiversity (SNIB) database at CONABIO and from museum specimen records contained in the Bird Atlas of Mexico database at the Facultad de Ciencias of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. We also obtained records from published papers through searches in BioOne <>, EBSCO <>, JSTOR <>, ScienceDirect <>, Springer Link <>, Web of Science <>, Wiley Online Library <>, Zoological Record <>, Redalyc <>, SciELO <>, and Google Scholar . We also reviewed the bulletins of the Cracid Group of the Galliformes Specialists Group <>. Added to which, we gathered records from “grey literature” through searches in technical reports and theses. These searches included the electronic portal of CONABIO and the repositories OpenDOAR <> and the Registry of Open Access Repositories <>. Finally, we gathered records from our own and unpublished databases of colleagues through personal contacts. After the GBIF, these personal unpublished databases were the second most important source of records, followed by records gathered from the SNIB and published papers (Table 4). Database quality control, based on the standards described in CONABIO (2012), was an iterative process that commenced with the detection, consolidation and elimination of duplicate records (the same record reported in more than one source). For detection of duplicate records within and among sources we first gave priority to the fields “institutionCode”, “catalogNumber”, “country”, “state”, “locality”, “decimalLatitude”, and “decimalLongitude”. The consolidation process consisted of the creation of a single record with more complete data from duplicate records. In the case of inconsistencies in duplicate records, we referred to the original source of the record. We avoided and corrected errors (omission, typographic, contextual, redundancy, convention, and congruence) through automatized tasks and case by case revision of the database. We then calculated geographic coordinates and their uncertainties for those records lacking these data, based on the standards described in CONABIO (2008). All coordinates refer to the datum WGS84. We used a variety of resources for geo-referencing, namely Google Earth 7 <>, Google Maps and the tools of Map Labs <>, glosk <>, CONABIO <>, GEOSiB <>, and Georeferencing Calculator <>. We also consulted regional experts for advice during the geo-referencing process. Once we were sufficiently certain of the correct location of the record, we checked that each location was consistent with taxa identification by displaying the records in a GIS. This taxonomic and geographic validation through the use of GIS tools and expert knowledge allowed us to detect inconsistencies. Where possible, we corrected inconsistencies through an iterative process, otherwise we labelled the record as “doubtful” (979 records) or “absent” (186) in the “occurrenceStatus” field as described above. The CracidMex1 database has 41 fields based on the standard Darwin Core version 1.4.


National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), Mexico, under the agreement FB1585/JM024/12.

Project Personnel

Principal investigator
Miguel Angel Martínez-Morales