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Equivalence of MAXENT and Poisson Point Process Models for Species Distribution Modeling in Ecology



Modeling the spatial distribution of a species is a fundamental problem in ecology. A number of modeling methods have been developed, an extremely popular one being MAXENT, a maximum entropy modeling approach. In this article, we show that MAXENT is equivalent to a Poisson regression model and hence is related to a Poisson point process model, differing only in the intercept term, which is scale-dependent in MAXENT. We illustrate a number of improvements to MAXENT that follow from these relations. In particular, a point process model approach facilitates methods for choosing the appropriate spatial resolution, assessing model adequacy, and choosing the LASSO penalty parameter, all currently unavailable to MAXENT. The equivalence result represents a significant step in the unification of the species distribution modeling literature.