What have biological records ever done for us? A systematic scoping review

Willson Gaul, Dinara Sadykova, Ellie Roark, Hannah J. White, Lupe León-Sánchez, Paul Caplat, Jon M. Yearsley

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Biological records provide biodiversity information over large spatal and temporal scales. Our systematic scoping review of biological records from the well-recorded region of the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland revealed that over half of all studies using biological records were studying species distributions (134 of 253 studies) and/ or temporal trends (139 of 253 studies). A minority of studies (61 of 253) focused on methodological questions, while most studies used biological records with existing methods as tools for answering biological and ecological questions. However, only 31 of 253 studies tested models using independent data. Most studies (154 of 253) integrated multiple biological records datasets, showing that biological records hold a largely untapped potential for independently testing conclusions by withholding some of those datasets for use as independent test data. Our results provide guidance for data providers and researchers interested in more effectively collecting and using biological records.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere48607
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers of Biogeography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • GBIF
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • biodiversity
  • biological records
  • citizen science
  • opportunistic data
  • scoping review


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