World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Environmental niche modelling

Article Id: WHEBN0024940440
Reproduction Date:

Title: Environmental niche modelling  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Landscape ecology, Theoretical ecology, Quantum evolution, AquaMaps, Rainer Froese
Collection: Biogeography, Ecology, Information Science, Landscape Ecology, Scientific Modeling
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Environmental niche modelling

Environmental niche modelling, alternatively known as species distribution modelling, (ecological) niche modelling, predictive habitat distribution modelling, and climate envelope modelling refers to the process of using computer algorithms to predict the distribution of species in geographic space on the basis of a mathematical representation of their known distribution in environmental space (= realized ecological niche). The environment is in most cases represented by climate data (such as temperature, and precipitation), but other variables such as soil type, water depth, and land cover can also be used. These models allow for interpolating between a limited number of species occurrence and they are used in several research areas in conservation biology, ecology and evolution.

The extent to which such modelled data reflect real-world species distributions will depend on a number of factors, including the nature, complexity, and accuracy of the models used and the quality of the available environmental data layers; the availability of sufficient and reliable species distribution data as model input; and the influence of various factors such as barriers to dispersal, geological history, or biotic interactions, that increase the difference between the realized niche and the fundamental niche. Environmental niche modelling may be considered a part of the discipline of biodiversity informatics.


  • Correlative vs mechanistic models 1
  • Niche modelling algorithms 2
  • Niche modelling software 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Correlative vs mechanistic models

Environmental niche models are correlative models. They relate observed presences of a species to values of environmental variables at those sites. Some models use absences, as well, but the most commonly used models use presence-only data, perhaps together with 'random background' data. Disagreement in the literature exists over whether environmental niche models portray the realized niche, which is determined by biotic and abiotic constraints or the fundamental niche, which is determined by abiotic constraints. In contrast, mechanistic (or process-based) models assess the bio-physiological aspects of a species to generate the conditions in which the species can ideally persist, based on observations made in controlled field or laboratory studies. As such it aims at modelling the fundamental niche of the species. See [1] for a comparison between mechanistic and correlative models.

Niche modelling algorithms

Niche modelling algorithms include "profile methods", simple statistical techniques that use e.g. environmental distance to known sites such as BIOCLIM,[2][3] and DOMAIN; "regression" (e.g. forms of generalized linear models); and "machine learning" methods such as maximum entropy (MAXENT). An incomplete list of algorithms that have been used for niche modelling includes:

Profile Techniques:

Regression-based Techniques:

Machine Learning Techniques:

Furthermore, ensemble models can be created from several model outputs to create a model that captures components of each. Often the mean or median value across several models is used as an ensemble. Similarly, consensus models are models that fall closest to some measure of central tendency of all models—consensus models can be individual model runs or ensembles of several models.

Niche modelling software

Example of simple niche modelling using rainfall, altitude and current species observations to create a model of possible existence for a certain species.

SPACES is an online Environmental niche modeling platform that allows users to design and run dozens of the most prominent algorithms in a high performance, multi-platform, browser-based environment.

MaxEnt is the most widely used method/software uses presence only data and performs well when there are few presence records available.

ModEco implements various algorithms.

DIVA-GIS has an easy to use (and good for educational use) implementation of BIOCLIM

Most niche modelling algorithms are available in the R packages 'dismo' and 'biomod2'.

Software developers may want to build on the openModeller project.

The Collaboratory for Adaptation to Climate Change has implemented an online version of openModeller that allows users to design and run openModeller in a high-performance, browser-based environment to allow for multiple parallel experiments without the limitations of local processor power.

See also


  1. ^ Morin, X.; Thuiller (2009). "Comparing niche- and process-based models to reduce prediction uncertainty in species range shifts under climate change.". Ecology 90 (5): 1301–13.  
  2. ^ Nix HA (1986). "BIOCLIM — a Bioclimatic Analysis and Prediction System". Research report, CSIRO Division of Water and Land Resources. 1983–1985: 59–60. 
  3. ^ Nix HA (1986). "A biogeographic analysis of Australian elapid snakes". In Longmore. Atlas of Elapid Snakes of Australia. Australian Flora and Fauna Series 7. Bureau of Flora and Fauna, Canberra. pp. 4–15. 

Further reading

  • Pearson, R.G. (2007). "Species’ distribution modeling for conservation educators and practitioners". Synthesis. American Museum of Natural History. 2007 (?): 1–50. 
  • Elith J., Leathwick J.R. (2009). "Species distribution models: ecological explanation and prediction across space and time". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 40: 677–697.  
  • Candela L., Castelli D., Coro G., Pagano P., Sinibaldi F. (2013). "Species distribution modeling in the cloud". Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience.  

External links

  • Climate Envelope Modeling Working Group - Online gathering place for scientists, practitioners, managers, and developers to discuss, support, and develop climate Environmental Niche Modeling tools and platforms
  • BioVeL Ecological Niche Modeling (ENM) - online tool with workflows to generate ecological niche models
  • EUBrazilOpenBio SpeciesLab Virtual Research Environment - online working environment to support the production of ecological niche modeling by (i) simplifying access to occurrence points and environmental parameters and (ii) offering a powerful version of openModeller benefitting from a distributed computing infrastructure;
  • openModeller - open source niche modelling library
  • lifemapper - niche modelling project from Kansas University
  • Lifemapper 2.0 - video of presentation by Aimee Stewart, Kansas University, at O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference 2008
  • AquaMaps - global predictive maps for marine species
  • Ecological Modelling - International Journal on Ecological Modelling and Systems Ecology
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.