Data from: Incorporating abundance information and guiding variable selection for climate-based ensemble forecasting of species' distributional shifts
Tanner, Evan P. et al. (2018), Data from: Incorporating abundance information and guiding variable selection for climate-based ensemble forecasting of species' distributional shifts, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.df564
Ecological niche models (ENMs) have increasingly been used to estimate the potential effects of climate change on species’ distributions worldwide. Recently, predictions of species abundance have also been obtained with such models, though knowledge about the climatic variables affecting species abundance is often lacking. To address this, we used a well-studied guild (temperate North American quail) and the Maxent modeling algorithm to compare model performance of three variable selection approaches: correlation/variable contribution (CVC), biological (i.e., variables known to affect species abundance), and random. We then applied the best approach to forecast potential distributions, under future climatic conditions, and analyze future potential distributions in light of available abundance data and presence-only occurrence data. To estimate species’ distributional shifts we generated ensemble forecasts using four global circulation models, four representative concentration pathways, and two time periods (2050 and 2070). Furthermore, we present distributional shifts where 75%, 90%, and 100% of our ensemble models agreed. The CVC variable selection approach outperformed our biological approach for four of the six species. Model projections indicated species-specific effects of climate change on future distributions of temperate North American quail. The Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) was the only species predicted to gain area in climatic suitability across all three scenarios of ensemble model agreement. Conversely, the scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) was the only species predicted to lose area in climatic suitability across all three scenarios of ensemble model agreement. Our models projected future loss of areas for the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail in portions of their distributions which are currently areas of high abundance. Climatic variables that influence local abundance may not always scale up to influence species’ distributions. Special attention should be given to selecting variables for ENMs, and tests of model performance should be used to validate the choice of variables.
National Science Foundation, Award: OIA-1301789