Niche-based distribution modeling may help improve effectiveness of protected areas
December 1, 2008
Niche-based distribution modeling may help researchers evaluate the effectiveness of protected areas, especially in regions lacking comprehensive databases of species distribution, reports a new analysis published in the December issue of Tropical Conservation Science.
Using niche-based modeling to generate distribution maps for 16 Neotropical threatened hylids (tree frogs) based on topographic and climatic variables, Nicolás Urbina-Cardona and Rafael D. Loyola estimate the effectiveness of the network of protected areas in representing these threatened species along the continental Neotropics. They find that nine of the 16 species examined have small geographic ranges with only 25 percent of their potential distribution presently under protection.
More generally, the authors write that combining niche-based distribution modeling and reserve selection algorithms is "an effective tool that should be applied in
systematic conservation planning to identify and interconnect priority regions." They say the technique can be used to identify gaps in reserve systems and complement proposed conservation plans.
Urbina-Cardona, J. N. and Loyola R.D. 2008. Applying niche-based models to predict endangered-hylid potential distributions: are neotropical protected areas effective enough? Tropical Conservation
Science Vol.1 (4):417-445.