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A fine-grained spatial prediction model for the red-listed vascular plant Scorzonera humilis


  • Anette Edvardsen,

  • Vegar Bakkestuen,

  • Rune Halvorsen

A. Edvardsen, V. Bakkestuen and R. Halvorsen (, Dept of Research and Collections, Natural History Museum, Univ. of Oslo, PO Box 1172, Blindern, NO-0318 Oslo, Norway.


We explored the applied use of distribution modelling as a tool for making spatial predictions of occurrences of the red-listed vascular plant species Scorzonera humilis in a study area in southeast Norway. Scorzonera is typical of extensively managed semi-natural grasslands. A Maxent model was trained on all known records of the species, accurately georeferenced and gridded to fine resolution (grid cells of 25×25 m). Model performance was assessed on the training data by data-splitting (by which some records were set off for evaluation) and on independent evaluation data collected in the field. Of the eight predictor variables used in the modelling, distance to roads and to arable land were most important followed by land-cover class and altitude. Judged from the area under curve (AUC), the model was good to excellent and a significant, positive relationship was found between relative probabilities of occurrence predicted by the model and true probability of presence provided by the independently collected evaluation data. The model was used together with the evaluation data to estimate presence of Scorzonera humilis in 0.7% of the grid cells in the study area. The grid cells in which the model predicted highest probability for Scorzonera to be present had a true probability of presence of ca 12%, i.e. 17×higher than in an average cell. The present study demonstrates that, even when only simple predictor variables are available, spatial prediction modelling contributes important knowledge about rare species such as prevalence estimates, spatial prediction maps and insights into the species’ autecology. Spatial prediction modelling also makes cost-efficient monitoring of rare species possible. However, it is pointed out that these benefits require evaluation of the model on independently sampled evaluation data.

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