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Data from: Creating virtual species to test species distribution models: The importance of landscape structure, dispersal and population processes

Citation

Grimmett, Liam (2021), Data from: Creating virtual species to test species distribution models: The importance of landscape structure, dispersal and population processes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m37pvmd1j

Abstract

The use of virtual species to test species distribution models is important for understanding how aspects of the model development process influence model performance. Typically, virtual species are simulated by defining its niche as a function of environmental variables and simulate occurrence probabilistically via Bernoulli trials. This approach ignores endogenous processes known to drive species distribution like dispersal and population dynamics. To understand whether these processes are important for simulating virtual species we compared the probabilistic simulation approach to those incorporating endogenous processes. This comparison was done by evaluating changes in the relationship between species occurrence and habitat suitability over a number of landscapes with varying spatial structure. We found that the combined effects of population dynamics and dispersal meant the probability of occurrence of a single cell was not only dependent on habitat suitability, but also the number of occupied cells nearby. This resulted in a dependence on the size of clusters of high suitability cells (analogous to patch size) to maintain populations, increased residual spatial autocorrelation and nonstationarity of the species response between landscapes. These data characteristics are attributes of real species distribution data and are not present in probabilistic simulations. Researchers using virtual species should consider the importance of these characteristics to their study objectives to decide whether the inclusion of endogenous processes is necessary.

Methods

This contains data which is the output of simulations and are formatted for direct use in analysis in 10.1111/ecog.05555