15 September 2020
One of the most valuable initiatives on massive availability of biodiversity data is the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which is creating new opportunities to develop and test macroecological knowledge. However, the potential uses of these data are limited by the gaps and biases associated to large-scale distributional databases (the so-called Wallacean shortfall). Describing and quantifying these limitations are essential to improve knowledge on biodiversity, especially in poorly-studied groups, such as mosses. Here we assess the coverage of the publicly-available distributional information on Iberian mosses, defining its eventual biases and gaps. For this purpose, we compiled IberBryo v1.0, a database that comprises 82,582 records after processing and checking the geospatial and taxonomical information. Our results show the limitations of data and metadata of the publicly-available information. Particularly, ca. 42% of the records lacked collecting date information, which limits data usefulness for time coverage analyses and enlarges the existing knowledge gaps. Then we evaluated the overall coverage of several aspects of the spatial, temporal and environmental variability of the Iberian Peninsula. Through this assessment, we demonstrate that the publicly-available information on Iberian mosses presents significant biases. Inventory completeness is strongly conditioned by the recorders' survey bias, particularly in northern Portugal and eastern Spain and the spatial pattern of surveys is also biased towards mountains. Besides, the temporal pattern of survey effort intensifies from 1970 onwards, encompassing a progressive increase in the geographic coverage of the Iberian Peninsula. Although we just found 5% of well-surveyed cells of 30’ of resolution over the 1970-2018 period, they cover about a fifth of the main climatic gradients of the Iberian Peninsula, which provides a fair – though limited – coverage. Yet, the well-surveyed cells are biased towards anthropised areas and some of them are located in areas under intense land-use changes, mainly due to the wood-fires of the last decade. Despite the overall increase, we found a noticeable gap of information in the south-west of Iberia, the Ebro river basin and the inner plateaus. All these gaps and biases call for a careful use of the available distributional data of Iberian mosses for biogeographical and ecological modelling analysis. Further, our results highlight the necessity of incorporating several good practices to increase the coverage of high-quality information. These good practices include digitalisation of specimens and metadata information, improvement on the protocols to get accurate data and metadata or revisions of the vouchers and recorders' field notebooks. These procedures are essential to improve the quality and coverage of the data. Finally, we also encourage Iberian bryologists to establish a series of re-surveys of classical localities that would allow updating the information on the group, as well as to design their future surveys considering the most important information gaps on IberBryo.