Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Landscape Ecology 16: 453–464, 2001.


Gap Analysis takes a proactive landscape-level approach to conserving native species by identifying nodes of high biological diversity. It uses vertebrate species richness as an index of overall biological diversity. However, it remains unknownwhether or not the spatial distribution of vertebrate diversity correspondswith the diversity of other taxa. We tested whether landscape-level diversity patterns corresponded between a vertebrate and an invertebrate taxon, mammals and ants, across the southern half of the Florida peninsula, USA. Composite digital maps with a 30-m spatial resolution were produced for each taxon. Spatial correspondence between the taxa was determined by normalizing and then subtracting the composite maps. There were large areas of spatial correspondence – indicating that richness between mammals and ants was similar over much of southern Florida. However, spatial correspondence occurred where the richness of both taxa was low or moderate, and areas with the highest species richness (highest 20%) for each taxon, the explicit focus of Gap Analyses, corresponded over only 8752 ha. Gap Analysis provides a much needed assessment of landscape-level diversity patterns and proactive reserve design, but it must be explicit that the results are applicable for vertebrate diversity, which does not necessarily correspond with diversity patterns of other taxa. The two taxa investigated differ by orders of magnitude in the scale that they perceive their environment, and it is likely that diversity hotspots vary as the scale of investigation – and the taxa mapped – vary.