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Data from: Ecological niche modeling for a cultivated plant species: a case study on taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Hawai‘i

Cite this dataset

Kodis, Mali'o; Galante, Peter; Sterling, Eleanor J.; Blair, Mary E. (2018). Data from: Ecological niche modeling for a cultivated plant species: a case study on taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Hawai‘i [Dataset]. Dryad.


Under the threat of ongoing and projected climate change, communities in the Pacific Islands face challenges of adapting culture and lifestyle to accommodate a changing landscape. Few models can effectively predict how biocultural livelihoods might be impacted. Here, we examine how environmental and anthropogenic factors influence an ecological niche model (ENM) for the realized niche of cultivated taro (Colocasia esculenta) in Hawai‘i. We created and tuned two sets of ENMs: one using only environmental variables, and one using both environmental and cultural characteristics of Hawa‘i. These models were projected under two different Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) for 2070. Models were selected and evaluated using average omission rate and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). We compared optimal model predictions by comparing the percentage of taro plots predicted present and measured ENM overlap using Schoener’s D-statistic. The model including only environmental variables consisted of 19 Worldclim bioclimatic variables, in addition to slope, altitude, distance to perennial streams, soil evaporation, and soil moisture. The optimal model with environmental variables plus anthropogenic features also included a road density variable (which we assumed as a proxy for urbanization) and a variable indicating agricultural lands of importance to the State of Hawai‘i. The model including anthropogenic features performed better than the environment-only model based on omission rate, AUC, and review of spatial projections. The two models also differed in spatial projections for taro under anticipated future climate change. Our results demonstrate how ENMs including anthropogenic features can predict which areas might be best suited to plant cultivated species in the future, and how these areas could change under various climate projections. These predictions might inform biocultural conservation priorities and initiatives. In addition, we discuss the incongruences that arise when traditional ENM theory is applied to species whose distribution has been significantly impacted by human intervention, particularly at a local scale relevant to biocultural conservation initiatives.

Usage notes


Pacific islands