Effects of species traits and environmental predictors on performance and transferability of ecological niche models

Año Publicación:  2019
Responsable: A. Regos et al.
Journal, Volumen y páginas:
Scientific Reports 9: 4221


A. Regos, L. Gagne, D. Alcaraz-Segura, J. P. Honrado & J. Domínguez


The ability of ecological niche models (ENMs) to produce robust predictions for different time frames (i.e. temporal transferability) may be hindered by a lack of ecologically relevant predictors. Model performance may also be affected by species traits, which may reflect different responses to processes controlling species distribution. In this study, we tested four primary hypotheses involving the role of species traits and environmental predictors in ENM performance and transferability. We compared the predictive accuracy of ENMs based upon (1) climate, (2) land-use/cover (LULC) and (3) ecosystem functional attributes (EFAs), and (4) the combination of these factors for 27 bird species within and beyond the time frame of model calibration. The combination of these factors significantly increased both model performance and transferability, highlighting the need to integrate climate, LULC and EFAs to improve biodiversity projections. However, the overall model transferability was low (being only acceptable for less than 25% of species), even under a hierarchical modelling approach, which calls for great caution in the use of ENMs to predict bird distributions under global change scenarios. Our findings also indicate that positive effects of species traits on predictive accuracy within model calibration are not necessarily translated into higher temporal transferability.

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