To develop our preliminary list of endemic taxa, we performed an extensive literature review, through which we compiled all previously published endemic species lists for Alaska.
Primary sources for endemic taxa included: the Alaska Species Ranking System, and A Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy: Emphasizing Alaska’s Nongame Species. Additional mammalian taxa were extracted from: Conservation Status of Selected Alaska Mammals (MacDonald et al. 2003), Endemic Mammals of the Alexander Archipelago (Dawson et al. 2007) and Conservation Status of Alaska Mammals (MacDonald and Cook 2009). Additional avian taxa were extracted from: Alaska Audubon Watch List (2010), Breeding Birds in Alaska list (Gibson et al. 2014), and various Birds of North America species accounts.
Once the initial endemics list was developed, we completed an extensive literature review to cross-check each selected taxa with listings by various authorities, and to search for additional species recently described using newer molecular techniques. We considered ‘authorities’ to be established national organizations, network databases, and/or comprehensive Alaska-specific publications. These included the recognition of mammalian (sub)species in Mammalian Species of the World (Wilson and Reeder 2011), Recent Mammals of Alaska (MacDonald and Cook 2009) and the Nature Serve database (2014); and the recognition of avian taxa in Avibase, the American Ornithologists’ Union checklist of North American birds, Birds of North America species accounts, the International Ornithologists’ Union world bird list, and the Inventory of the Species and Subspeices of Alaskan Birds (Gibson and WIthrow 2015). Taxa that were found to have ranges extending farther than one province or territory beyond Alaska were omitted from the list.
We checked for a unique taxonomic listing for each taxa in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). We then initiated an extensive literature review to identify when each taxa was first described, and if it had been further described based on morphology and/or molecular analysis (mtDNA, chromosomes, nuclear DNA). Subspecies that had strong evidence refuting their genetic uniqueness were removed from the list. Subspecies with questionable taxonomy were retained on the list for reviewers to comment on.
Range maps are coarse scale depictions of the total area occupied by a given taxon. For each taxa, we acquired initial polygon range maps from the AKNHP Biotics database (Figure 1). For taxa for which no range map existed in the Biotics database, we produced new range maps using occurrence records obtained from various open-source databases including Global Biodiversity Information Facility and Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (US Geological Survey), and independent researchers. In addition, where full species range maps were available, we further delineated subspecies using range descriptions found in the literature.
We are currently working on finalizing individual species range maps. Our goal is to present the most up-to-date range maps possible and to do so, rely heavily on field researchers for new sources of data. Thank you to those who have contributed feedback on our first round of draft maps. We will be incorporating your comments into a second round of draft maps that will be available soon.