Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Wildland Resources


The identification of important areas for biodiversity is essential for effective allocation of limited conservation resources. Prioritizing regions for conservation based on biodiversity is typically done using global biodiversity maps created using range map data for one or more taxa. While the use of range maps makes pragmatic sense since large-scale survey data is rarely available, it is important to understand the sensitivity of the results to the use of range map data. We studied how prioritizations may change between data types using the North American Breeding Bird survey (BBS) and BirdLife International range maps as a comparison case study. Diversity maps were generated using the North American Breeding Bird survey data for both total species richness and the richness of rare species. Rarity was defined as species present at less than the median number of sites. To account for spatial sampling bias in the location of BBS routes, maps were created based on a subsampling of sites within 100 square kilometer grid cells. For comparison, similar maps were generated using range maps for equivalent species.

Analyses of the Breeding Bird Survey data and range map data show that for species richness there is only 12%-15% overlap in hotspots at different scales. Hotspots for rare species have 56%-57% overlap. Multiple regions, such as the southern and eastern states have high biodiversity for one data type and low biodiversity for another. Maps for rare species are generally more congruent, with hotspot concentrations along the southern border of the United States. Biodiversity patterns for species richness vary greatly between data types.



Faculty Mentor

Ethan White

Departmental Honors Advisor

David Koons