Selecting pseudo-absence data for presence-only distribution modeling: How far should you stray from what you know?

VanDerWal, Jeremy, Shoo, Luke P., Graham, Catherine, and Williams, Stephen E. (2009) Selecting pseudo-absence data for presence-only distribution modeling: How far should you stray from what you know? Ecological Modelling, 220 (4). pp. 589-594.

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An important decision in presence-only species distribution modeling is how to select background (or pseudo-absence) localities for model parameterization. The selection of such localities may influence model parameterization and thus, can influence the appropriateness and accuracy of the model prediction when extrapolating the species distribution across time and space. We used 12 species from the Australian Wet Tropics (AWT) to evaluate the relationship between the geographic extent from which pseudo-absences are taken and model performance, and shape and importance of predictor variables using the MAXENT modeling method. Model performance is lower when pseudo-absence points are taken from either a restricted or broad region with respect to species occurrence data than from an intermediate region. Furthermore, variable importance (i.e., contribution to the model) changed such that, models became increasingly simplified, dominated by just two variables, as the area from which pseudo-absence points were drawn increased. Our results suggest that it is important to consider the spatial extent from which pseudo-absence data are taken. We suggest species distribution modeling exercises should begin with exploratory analyses evaluating what extent might provide both the most accurate results and biologically meaningful fit between species occurrence and predictor variables. This is especially important when modeling across space or time—a growing application for species distributional modeling.

Item ID: 4807
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-7026
Keywords: AUC; conservation; model evaluation; pseudo-absence data; species distribution model
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2009 01:56
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 30%
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