Guidelines to merge stranding databases: the case of franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) in the extreme South of Brazil
Strandings of several species of marine mammals have been monitored over the years off the south coast of Rio Grande do Sul State, southern Brazil. A long time series of records implies extensive databases on strandings. In the region, these databases are maintained by two institutions: (i) Núcleo de Educação e Monitoramento Ambiental (NEMA) [Environmental Education and Monitoring Nucleus] and (ii) Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha (ECOMEGA) [Ecology and Conservation of Marine Mefagauna Laboratory] at the Federal University of Rio Grande – FURG. In order to make the time series as complete as possible and to make it a reliable source for research related to a particular species and region, the present work proposes a methodology for unifying both databases for franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) for the period 2000 - 2020 (NEMA, n = 3,029; FURG, n = 4,629). To build the unified database, specific metrics were outlined for the species and region, in order to confirm a ‘match’ of a record. The ‘match’ variable is a subjective value that classifies the resighting of a stranded animal as excellent (1), good (2), or regular (3). With the implementation of guidelines to merge stranding databases 1,812 ‘excellent’ and 97 ‘good’ combinations were recorded. Sixty records classified as 30 ‘regular’ matches were kept in the database, as they are possibly not recounts due to large differences in our primary and secondary metrics. To characterize a reliable match between distinct databases, the general guidelines outlined here need to be adapted according to the species of interest and the specificities of each monitoring program. The methodology developed to unify the databases had as its main objective the identification of matches.
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