The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe hosted a training workshop on Ecological Niche modeling with a focus on the Maximum Entropy Approach (MAXENT). This workshop introduced a methodology to predict species occurrence probabilities using occurrence datasets to researchers and data users working with occurrence datasets.
Attendees were experienced in GIS, Biogeography and Spatial Ecology and included researchers from The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, University of Zimbabwe, National University of Science and Technology, DAMBARI Wildlife Trust, Dabshan Ranch as well as curators from the Botswana National museum and The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe.
The workshop was facilitated by lecturers from UZ, Department of Geography and Environmental Science and covered topics including:
- Accessing occurrence datasets from GBIF
- Preparation of species data in Excel
- Understanding and assembling environmental data for model input for analysts
- Pre-processing of GIS data layers in a GIS
- Downloading and installing MaxEnt software
- Running models on MaxEnt and manipulating settings
- Interpreting results and, preparing and presenting them in ArcMap and QGIS
Following this course, data users were able to use MAXENT - a presence-only niche-based modeling approach - to develop species’ distribution models, apply the models across a series of analyses, and interpret predictions accurately.
Participants were also able to prepare and print the distribution maps through a GIS.