Correlative and mechanistic models of species distribution provide congruent forecasts under climate change
Version of Record online: 26 JAN 2010
©2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 3, Issue 3, pages 203–213, June 2010
How to Cite
Kearney, M. R., Wintle, B. A. and Porter, W. P. (2010), Correlative and mechanistic models of species distribution provide congruent forecasts under climate change. Conservation Letters, 3: 203–213. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00097.x
- Issue online: 7 JUN 2010
- Version of Record online: 26 JAN 2010
- Received: 10 September 2009; accepted 7 January 2010.
- Biophysical ecology;
- species distribution modeling;
- geographical information systems;
- fundamental niche;
- realized niche;
- physiological ecology
Good forecasts of climate change impacts on extinction risks are critical for effective conservation management responses. Species distribution models (SDMs) are central to extinction risk analyses. The reliability of predictions of SDMs has been questioned because models often lack a mechanistic underpinning and rely on assumptions that are untenable under climate change. We show how integrating predictions from fundamentally different modeling strategies produces robust forecasts of climate change impacts on habitat and population parameters. We illustrate the principle by applying mechanistic (Niche Mapper) and correlative (Maxent, Bioclim) SDMs to predict current and future distributions and fertility of an Australian gliding possum. The two approaches make congruent, accurate predictions of current distribution and similar, dire predictions about the impact of a warming scenario, supporting previous correlative-only predictions for similar species. We argue that convergent lines of independent evidence provide a robust basis for predicting and managing extinctions risks under climate change.