In this study, César Antonio Ríos-Muñoz, winner of the 2011 GBIF Young Researchers Award, and Adolfo G. Navarro-Sigüenza from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), looked at the patterns of bird distributions in a specific ecosystem in Mesoamerica.
The researchers analysed biogeographic relationships of 650 resident bird species of the seasonally dry lowland tropical forests of Mexico and Central America, among the most endangered ecosystems in the world. These forests are rich in species, many of which are endemic. About 40 per cent of the bird species in the area are restricted to this habitat.
Occurrence data for the 650 species of birds studied came from scientific literature, museum specimens, field guides and online scientific collection databases including GBIF. Based on these, the researchers employed modelling techniques to produce maps of species richness and areas of endemism (clusters of unique species), to help identify key locations for the conservation of birds in the region.