Simulating movement-related resource dynamics to improve species distribution models: a case study with oilbirds in northern South America

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Holloway, Paul
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Taylor & Francis
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A better understanding of the current and future distributions of organisms is a critical facet of biodiversity conservation, and species distribution models (SDMs) are an important framework for achieving this. Despite the potential of SDMs to address an array of biogeography questions, they are subject to a number of conceptual and methodological uncertainties, such as the role of animal movement processes in determining geographic ranges. Movement processes have only recently been incorporated in SDMs, predominantly conceptualized as broad-scale movement processes (e.g., dispersal), while finer scale ambulatory movements of mobile animals (e.g., foraging) have been omitted. This research addresses this gap by developing a model that simulates the dynamic relationship between movement and biotic resources (e.g., food sources) for oilbirds (Steatornis caripensis) in Venezuela. This simulation represented the sustainability of an oilbird’s neighborhood, based on the connectivity, accessibility, and viability of its biotic resources. These dynamic variables improved the accuracy and ecological realism of the SDM projection compared to other commonly applied SDM scenarios. Integration of a Lagrangian (individual-level) form of movement in SDM with step-selection functions to parameterize biased-correlated random walks provides a new empirical framework for applying geographic context to simulation.
Movement , Spatial simulation , Species distribution modelling , Step-selection function , Venezuela
Holloway, P. (2018) 'Simulating Movement-Related Resource Dynamics to Improve Species Distribution Models: A Case Study with Oilbirds in Northern South America', The Professional Geographer, 70(4), pp. 528-540. doi: 10.1080/00330124.2018.1479972
© 2018 American Association of Geographers. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Professional Geographer on 16 Nov 2018, available online: