Species distribution models can exaggerate differences in environmental requirements
Separate species that live in radically different environments don't necessarily also have different ecological niches. This is the finding of a study investigating the accuracy of current statistical tests that use models of geographic distributions to infer changes in environmental requirements.
In a new study published in the journal Systematic Biology, a model simulating the distributions of two imaginary species with identical environmental requirements, or ecological niches, was created. The model was tested to determine whether a variety of ecological niche modeling methods would correctly infer that the environmental requirements of the two species were identical.
In cases where environments were similar or only moderately different, many tests correctly inferred that the environmental requirements of two species were identical, but in the case of radically different environments, the results were biased toward suggesting different environmental requirements.
"If you have two separate populations that occupy different environments, what the study shows is that under some conditions, that observation is really useful and strongly suggests, for example, that you could re-introduce one population into the range of another," said the study's author William Godsoe, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), an NSF-supported math and biology institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
"But the fact that the two populations live in different environments could be a trivial observation and lead to erroneous conclusions. For example, you might infer that the two populations have different environmental requirements, suggesting that reintroducing one species into the other wouldn't work, when in fact it could," Godsoe said.
The findings have important implications for understanding the relationship between the environmental requirements of a species—its niche—and its geographic distribution.
"There is a growing interest in using data on the geographic distributions of a species. This study clarifies the conditions under which distribution data can mislead us, and in the future, this might help us make better management decisions about a species," Godsoe explained.
The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) brings together researchers from around the world to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to investigate solutions to basic and applied problems in the life sciences. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Publication: Godsoe W. 2010. Regional Variation Exaggerates Ecological Divergence in Niche Models. Systematic Biology 59: 298-306. http://sysbio.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/59/3/298
Catherine Crawley | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...