Modeling Species Niches & Distributions



A particularly important tool for our research is the use of species occurrence localities (especially museum/herbarium records), environmental data, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model species geographic distributions (Anderson 2012). 


The niche-based nature of these models allows for synthetic studies of evolutionary ecology and biogeography.  Additionally, these techniques are also relevant to research on global climate change, invasive species management, zoonotic diseases, and conservation biology. 


Our work in these areas results in both research papers (see Publications) and software development (see Resources, especially the Wallace project).

Our current projects in this area include:

•    The redesigned and expanded Wallace 2.0 for interactive and reproducible modeling of species niches (Gonzalo Pinilla, Bethany Johnson and Robert Anderson)

•    Use of biodiversity data to produce unbiased estimates of Area of Occupancy (AOO) for Red-Listing of threatened species (Robert Anderson)

•    Modeling parasite distributions based abiotic (climatic) vs. biotic (host) distributions (Erica Johnson) 

•    Improving ecological niche models by time-matching occurrence records and environmental data (Gonzalo Pinilla)

•    A neighborhood approach for using remotely sensed data to post-process species distribution models for conservation assessments (Bethany Johnson)


Predictive model of areas suitable for Bradypus variegatus in the Neotropics; from Phillips et al., 2006; locality data from Anderson and Handley, 2001.