Uses and Requirements of Ecological Niche Models and Related Distributional Models

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A. Townsend Peterson


Abstract.—Modeling approaches that relate known occurrences of species to landscape features to discover ecological properties and predict geographic occurrences have seen extensive recent application in ecology, systematics, and conservation. A key component in this process is estimation or characterization of species’ distributions in ecological space, which can then be useful in understanding their potential distributions in geographic space. Hence, this process is often termed ecological niche modeling or (less boldly) species distribution modeling. Applications of this approach vary widely in their aims, products, and requirements; this variety is reviewed herein, examples are provided, and differences in data needs and possible interpretations are discussed.

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Articles (peer-reviewed)
Author Biography

A. Townsend Peterson, University of Kansas

Peterson is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Curator of Ornithology in the Natural History Museum, at the University of Kansas.