1 Tahrcountry Musings: Decisions related to species conservation and the relevance of ecological niche modelling methods

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Decisions related to species conservation and the relevance of ecological niche modelling methods

The importance of defining the geographic distribution of species for conservation: The case of the Bearded Wood-Partridge
Claudio Mota-Vargas, Octavio R. Rojas-Soto
Journal for Nature Conservation, Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 10-17

 A proper understanding of the distribution areas of species has fundamental implications for the proper understanding of biodiversity and for decision-making in conservation. The authors of this paper say this is very well illustrated by the case of the Bearded Wood-Partridge (Dendrortyx barbatus), which is endemic to Mexico and was classified as threatened by the IUCN.

Recently Bearded Wood-Partridge was discovered in new locations and this increase in known location led it to be reclassified in a lower risk category.

In this study the researchers examine closely, delimitation and comparison of the Bearded Wood-Partridge distribution area utilising five different methods: minimum convex polygon; areographic; cartographic; ecological niche modelling; and, “free hand”.  Locality records were used to demonstrate the chronological order of appearance. 

An analysis of the  results show that the size and shape of the distribution area of this species vary depending on the number of records and on their spatial and environmental location, as well as on the particular delimitation method used.

The researchers say ecological niche modelling provides the best results in terms of spatial and numerical sensitivity as well as lower values of omission and a moderate extent of predicted areas. They suggest that decisions related to species conservation (categories of risk, areas of endemism, etc.), particularly those species of high geographical restriction, should be contingent on the formalised delimitation of distribution areas based on ecological niche modelling methods.

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