Commentary on Ditch, Stitch and Pitch: the niche is here to stay



A recent set of discussion papers in the Journal of Biogeography by McInerny and Etienne (henceforth M&E) questions the value of niche concepts in relation to a diverse group of practices collectively labelled species distribution modelling (SDM), and specifically the usefulness of the idea of a fundamental niche. In this Correspondence, I argue that certain types of SDM may indeed dispense with niche concepts, but that such is not the case for an important class of SDM-based activities, including transferring predictions in space and time. Using a single term (SDM) to denote diverse objectives and practices does not help to clarify issues; I discuss this point. I also review several criticisms raised by M&E about the use of the concept of fundamental niche in the context of modelling species' distributions and their environments.