Thursday, January 8, 2015

Towards the ‘Next Generation’ of Species Distribution Modelling

The pre-conference workshop “Towards the ‘next generation’ of species distribution modelling: emerging themes and methods” brought together biogeographers, ecologists, remote sensing specialist, and statisticians from all over the world. Some 50 PhDs, Postdocs, and Professors followed the presentations and practical modelling exercises. Novel themes and methods were intensively discussed that present new challenges for species distribution model applications and may form the basis for their ‘next generation’. Starting with remote sensing, Anna Cord and Jan Engler, gave valuable insights how to deal with satellite images by the means of landsat data to model species distribution, the impact of spatial and temporal non-stationarity, and the role of remote sensing data for predicting potential versus actual species distributions. They also introduced the UV-B-radiation as very meaningful predictor.
In a second part of the workshop, tackling landscape genetics, Jan Engler introduced novel techniques to combine species distribution models with models of gene flow to jointly parameterize surfaces of habitat availability and landscape resistance. He applied the open source software circuitscape for mapping the connectivity between wolverine populations.
Niche Evolution was the third topic of the workshop. Dennis Rödder provided an overview of the current available tools that combine phylogenetic information with both current and paleoclimatic datasets to evaluate signals of niche conservatism or niche shift using the hypervolume package in R. He concentrated on the questions: How analyse a species realized niche and how to test for phylogenetic signals in realized niches?
Landscape epidemiology integrates concepts of disease ecology with the macroscale lens of biogeography in order to examine the interactions between landscape heterogeneity and disease spread, was vividly illustrated by Joe Chipperfield. He revealed himself: “I´m a Baysian! And you will probably get one”. For my part, I would like to close with “I´m a Bayreuther” and I am looking forward to discover new interesting facts about Biogeography at the 7th international conference of the International Biogeography Society here in Bayreuth.

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