MartiTracks: a geometrical approach for identifying geographical patterns of distribution.
biodiversity, biogeography, biology, Computational Biology, Computer Science, Conservation science, Ecology, Engineering, Environmental systems modeling, Geoinformatics, Research Article, Software engineering, Software tools
Panbiogeography represents an evolutionary approach to biogeography, using rational cost-efficient methods to reduce initial complexity to locality data, and depict general distribution patterns. However, few quantitative, and automated panbiogeographic methods exist. In this study, we propose a new algorithm, within a quantitative, geometrical framework, to perform panbiogeographical analyses as an alternative to more traditional methods. The algorithm first calculates a minimum spanning tree, an individual track for each species in a panbiogeographic context. Then the spatial congruence among segments of the minimum spanning trees is calculated using five congruence parameters, producing a general distribution pattern. In addition, the algorithm removes the ambiguity, and subjectivity often present in a manual panbiogeographic analysis. Results from two empirical examples using 61 species of the genus Bomarea (2340 records), and 1031 genera of both plants and animals (100118 records) distributed across the Northern Andes, demonstrated that a geometrical approach to panbiogeography is a feasible quantitative method to determine general distribution patterns for taxa, reducing complexity, and the time needed for managing large data sets.