Finding Constraints on the Abundance of Species: A Path forward in Large-Scale Distribution Modeling

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Depending on situation, purpose and evaluation technique, large-scale distribution models only account for a small percentage of the variation in observed species occurrences or abundances. Various issues haunt the field of distribution modeling such as scale mismatch, dynamics in environment and distributions, and lack of ecological mechanisms underlying the models. While sometimes these problems have been ascribed to a failure of distribution modelers, we believe that most of the time inadequate data, not ignorance, prevents distribution modelers from building better models. Since collecting adequate data over large-extents is nearly impossible we suggest that other ways forward should be explored. We want to encourage distribution modelers to use the biotic and abiotic constraints on presence and abundance to more narrowly predict the distribution of an organism compared to using simple climatic envelopes.


This paper was presented at the 93th Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, August 6, 2008 in Milwaukee, WI.

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