Wallace: lowering barriers for species distribution modeling

Modular plug-and-play web-browser based platform for simple and easy modelling of species niches and distributions

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 14.42.00
Screenshot from WALLACE–a simple attempt to model the distribution of the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus)

Increased access to open data and a rise in computing power have enabled advanced modelling approaches in ecology. Researchers looking to model species distributions are often faced with either complicated command line interface (CLI) programming tools with high flexibility, but low user-friendliness, or fancy graphical user interfaces (GUI) that are easy to use, but lack reproducibility and flexibility.

This paper introduces Wallace–a new web-browser based, flexible platform for species distribution modelling built in R. Modular in structure, Wallace uses seperate components to guide the user through a series of simple steps–including obtaining species occurrences records, e.g. from GBIF, downloading relevant environmental layers, building the models, and finally visualizing the distributions.

The lead author of the paper originally presented the Wallace concept as a finalist entry in the 2015 Ebbe Nielsen Challenge. Combining the strengths of CLI and GUI tools, the Wallace platform provides an innovative approach to flexible and easy-to-use software for researchers in ecology and biodiversity sciences.

Link to original article

Kass JM, Vilela B, Aiello-Lammens ME, Muscarella R, Merow C and Anderson RP (2018) Wallace: A flexible platform for reproducible modeling of species niches and distributions built for community expansion. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Wiley 9(4): 1151–1156. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12945.