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Spatial prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence-only records: combining point pattern analysis, ENFA and regression-kriging


  • Hengl, Tomislav
  • Sierdsema, Henk
  • Radović, Andreja
  • Dilo, Arta


A computational framework to map species’ distributions (realized density) using occurrence-only data and environmental predictors is presented and illustrated using a textbook example and two case studies: distribution of root vole (Microtes oeconomus) in the Netherlands, and distribution of white-tailed eagle nests (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Croatia. The framework combines strengths of point pattern analysis (kernel smoothing), Ecological Niche Factor Analysis (ENFA) and geostatistics (logistic regression-kriging), as implemented in the spatstat, adehabitat and gstat packages of the R environment for statistical computing. A procedure to generate pseudo-absences is proposed. It uses Habitat Suitability Index (HSI, derived through ENFA) and distance from observations as weight maps to allocate pseudo-absence points. This design ensures that the simulated pseudo-absences fall further away from the occurrence points in both feature and geographical spaces. The simulated pseudo-absences can then be combined with occurrence locations and used to build regression-kriging prediction models. The output of prediction are either probabilitiesy of species’ occurrence or density measures. Addition of the pseudo-absence locations has proven effective — the adjusted R-square increased from 0.71 to 0.80 for root vole (562 records), and from 0.69 to 0.83 for white-tailed eagle (135 records) respectively; pseudo-absences improve spreading of the points in feature space and ensure consistent mapping over the whole area of interest. Results of cross validation (leave-one-out method) for these two species showed that the model explains 98% of the total variability in the density values for the root vole, and 94% of the total variability for the white-tailed eagle. The framework could be further extended to Generalized multivariate Linear Geostatistical Models and spatial prediction of multiple species. A copy of the R script and step-by-step instructions to run such analysis are available via contact author’s website.

Suggested Citation

  • Hengl, Tomislav & Sierdsema, Henk & Radović, Andreja & Dilo, Arta, 2009. "Spatial prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence-only records: combining point pattern analysis, ENFA and regression-kriging," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 220(24), pages 3499-3511.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecomod:v:220:y:2009:i:24:p:3499-3511
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2009.06.038

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miller, Jennifer & Franklin, Janet & Aspinall, Richard, 2007. "Incorporating spatial dependence in predictive vegetation models," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 202(3), pages 225-242.
    2. Chefaoui, Rosa M. & Lobo, Jorge M., 2008. "Assessing the effects of pseudo-absences on predictive distribution model performance," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 210(4), pages 478-486.
    3. VanDerWal, Jeremy & Shoo, Luke P. & Graham, Catherine & Williams, Stephen E., 2009. "Selecting pseudo-absence data for presence-only distribution modeling: How far should you stray from what you know?," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 220(4), pages 589-594.
    4. Baddeley, Adrian & Turner, Rolf, 2005. "spatstat: An R Package for Analyzing Spatial Point Patterns," Journal of Statistical Software, Foundation for Open Access Statistics, vol. 12(i06).
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