Database queries in the system generate lists of fish by reserve, by island, by country and using templates of different areas to filter results. Because of the enormous quantity of information, the use of area templates with predetermined faunas greatly speeds up comparative searches. It is possible to list species endemic to an area, species that likely occur in an area based on larger range maps, and species whose occurrence is confirmed for that same area, based on occurrence site records. Maps can also be generated that show the richness of the entire fauna or of different types of species in different parts of the region.
"You can see which areas have been well sampled and which areas still need to be studied. Mapping species richness and determining local endemism makes it much easier to decide where to locate reserves," said Robertson. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently organized two workshops using the geographic databases in this online system to examine the entire regional fauna and determine which species should be included in different categories of their Red List of endangered species. Previously, this was done based on incomplete lists of taxa rather than with a regional fauna.
The system has full capabilities in English and Spanish to enhance its accessibility in the 10 countries that span the region: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Fund contributed to the translation.
In addition to yearly updates of this system, Robertson will soon complete a similar online system for Caribbean shorefishes and then for the coastal
|Contact: Beth King|
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute