Forecasting species ranges by statistical estimation of ecological niches and spatial population dynamics
Article first published online: 18 APR 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Volume 21, Issue 2, pages 293–304, February 2012
How to Cite
Pagel, J. and Schurr, F. M. (2012), Forecasting species ranges by statistical estimation of ecological niches and spatial population dynamics. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 21: 293–304. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2011.00663.x
- Issue published online: 9 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 18 APR 2011
- ecological forecasts;
- global change;
- hierarchical Bayesian statistics;
- long-distance dispersal;
- niche theory;
- process-based model;
- range shifts;
- spatial demography;
- species distribution modelling
Aim The study and prediction of species–environment relationships is currently mainly based on species distribution models. These purely correlative models neglect spatial population dynamics and assume that species distributions are in equilibrium with their environment. This causes biased estimates of species niches and handicaps forecasts of range dynamics under environmental change. Here we aim to develop an approach that statistically estimates process-based models of range dynamics from data on species distributions and permits a more comprehensive quantification of forecast uncertainties.
Innovation We present an approach for the statistical estimation of process-based dynamic range models (DRMs) that integrate Hutchinson's niche concept with spatial population dynamics. In a hierarchical Bayesian framework the environmental response of demographic rates, local population dynamics and dispersal are estimated conditional upon each other while accounting for various sources of uncertainty. The method thus: (1) jointly infers species niches and spatiotemporal population dynamics from occurrence and abundance data, and (2) provides fully probabilistic forecasts of future range dynamics under environmental change. In a simulation study, we investigate the performance of DRMs for a variety of scenarios that differ in both ecological dynamics and the data used for model estimation.
Main conclusions Our results demonstrate the importance of considering dynamic aspects in the collection and analysis of biodiversity data. In combination with informative data, the presented framework has the potential to markedly improve the quantification of ecological niches, the process-based understanding of range dynamics and the forecasting of species responses to environmental change. It thereby strengthens links between biogeography, population biology and theoretical and applied ecology.