Interpretation of Models of Fundamental Ecological Niches and Species’ Distributional Areas

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Jorge Soberon
A. Townsend Peterson


Ecological niche modeling?that is, estimation of the dimensions of fundamental ecological niches of species?to predict their geographic distributions is increasingly being employed in systematics, ecology, conservation, public health, etc. This technique is often (of necessity) based on data comprising records of presences only. In recent years, many modeling approaches have been devised to estimate these interrelated expressions of a species’ ecology, distributional biology, and evolutionary history?nevertheless, in many cases, a formal basis in ecological and evolutionary theory has been lacking. In this paper, we outline such a formal basis for the suite of techniques that can be termed ‘ecological niche modeling,’ analyze example situations that can be modeled using these techniques, and clarify the interpretation of results.

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