Species Distribution Modelling

jaguar habitat model
Two-dimensional habitat model for predicting jaguar (Panthera onca) presence in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest and for establishing priority management actions. Adapted from De Angelo et al. (2013).

Fragmentation and loss of natural habitats are recognized as major threats to the viability of endangered species and have become an important subject of research in ecology especially under climate change. A prerequisite for effective nature conservation is to identify the factors which affect the distribution and abundance of the species of interest and knowledge of the extent, spatial arrangement and connectivity of potentially suitable habitat.

One powerful approach for assessment and mapping of suitable habitat is habitat modelling e.g., using generalized linear models. The basic idea of most habitat models is to predict the probability of occupancy from a set of landscape-scale explanatory variables and presence/absence data. Our approach is embedding within the broader framework of spatially-explicit simulation models: habitat maps derived by habitat modelling are used as input for spatially-explicit dispersal models to assess connectivity of suitable patches (e.g., Kanagaraj et al. 2013), as well as for assessing spatial dynamics using spatially-explicit population models (e.g., Kramer-Schadt et al. 2011).

We apply techniques of habitat modeling for a wide range of systems and questions ranging from climate-change induced shifts in pelagic habitats for wandering albatross (Louzao et al. 2013, 2011), deriving habitat maps for endangered large carnivores such as tiger or jaguar (De Angelo et al. 2013, Kanagaraj et al. 2011), showing how animal dispersal activity determines plant spatial distribution (Rodríguez-Pérez et al. 2012), investigating climate change driven movement of tree lines (Martínez et al. 2012), or how the environment determines the probability of fire ignition (Mundo et al. 2013).

Selected Publications

  • Mundo, I.A, T. Wiegand, R. Kanagaraj & T. Kitzberger (2013):
    Spatial analysis of ignition point patterns and the probability of fire occurrence in the western area of Neuquén province, Argentina.
    Journal of Environmental Management 123: 77-87.
  • Louzao, M., Aumont, O., Hothorn, T., Wiegand, T., Weimerskirch, H., (2013):
    Foraging in a changing environment: habitat shifts of an oceanic predator over the last half century
    Ecography 36 (1), 57 - 67
    Volltext (URL)
  • Kanagaraj, R., Wiegand, T., Kramer-Schadt, S., Goyal, S.P., (2013):
    Using individual-based movement models to assess inter-patch connectivity for large carnivores in fragmented landscapes
    Biol. Conserv. 167 , 298 - 309
    Volltext (URL)
  • De Angelo, C., Paviolo, A., Wiegand, T., Kanagaraj, R., Di Bitetti, M.S., (2013):
    Understanding species persistence for defining conservation actions: a management landscape for jaguars in the Atlantic Forest
    Biol. Conserv. 159 , 422 - 433
    Volltext (URL)
  • Rodríguez-Pérez, J., Wiegand, T., Santamaria, L., (2012):
    Frugivore behaviour determines plant distribution: a spatially-explicit analysis of a plant-disperser interaction
    Ecography 35 (2), 113 - 123
    Volltext (URL)
  • Louzao, M., Pinaud, D., Péron, C., Delord, K., Wiegand, T., Weimerskirch, H., (2011):
    Conserving pelagic habitats: seascape modelling of an oceanic top predator
    J. Appl. Ecol. 48 (1), 121 - 132
    full text (pdf)
  • Kramer-Schadt, S., Kaiser, T.S., Frank, K., Wiegand, T., (2011):
    Analyzing the effect of stepping stones on target patch colonisation in structured landscapes for Eurasian lynx
    Landsc. Ecol. 26 (4), 501 - 513
    Volltext (URL)
  • Kanagaraj, R., Wiegand, T., Kramer-Schadt, S., Anwar, M., Goyal, S.P., (2011):
    Assessing habitat suitability for tiger in the fragmented Terai Arc Landscape of India and Nepal
    Ecography 34 (6), 970 - 981
    Volltext (URL)