Assessing Transferability of Species Distribution Models

Anticipating and responding to the spread of invasive species in new environments often hinges on analyses of species distribution models.

European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) by Phil Warren via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) by Phil Warren via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Anticipating and responding to the spread of invasive species in new environments often hinges on analyses of species distribution models. The authors begin by noting cases where convenient methodological assumptions have oversimplified and distorted the consistency with which species invade environments that resemble their preferred native habitats—a concept known as ‘ecological niche transferability’. Building their models with a range of bioclimatic variables and GBIF-mediated data for 13 well-documented invasives, the authors compare the observed ranges for the species in both their native and invaded habitats with modelled predictions. Their results highlight the invaders’ varied responses and broadly suggest that niche transferability depends largely on the dynamics of species interactions in a given region. This finding emphasizes the importance of preventative controls while calling attention to the value of modelling niche transferability to guide post-invasion management measures.

Citations

Fernández, M., & Hamilton, H. (2015). Ecological niche transferability using invasive species as a case study. PloS One, 10(3), e0119891. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119891

Subject