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Scaling of species distribution models across spatial resolutions and extents along a biogeographic gradient. The case of the Iberian mole Talpa occidentalis

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Scaling is a key process in modelling approaches since it allows for translating information from one scale to another. However, the success of this procedure may depend on ‘source’ and ‘target’ scales, but also on the biogeographic/ecological context of the study area. We aimed to quantify the performance and success of scaling species distribution model (SDM) predictions across spatial resolution and extent along a biogeographic gradient using the Iberian mole as study case. We ran separate MaxEnt models at two extents (national and regional) using independent datasets (species locations and environmental predictors) collected at 10 km and 50 m resolutions respectively. Model performance and success of scaling SDMs were quantified on the basis of accuracy measures and spatial predictions. Complementarily, we calculated marginality and tolerance as indicators of habitat availability and niche truncation along the biogeographic gradient. Model performance increased with resolution and extent, as well as from north to south (mainly for high resolution models). When regional models were validated at different scales, their performance reduced severely, particularly in the case of coarse resolution models (some of them performed worse than random). However, when the 10 km‐national model was downscaled within regions, it performed better (AUCtest: 0.82, 0.85 and 0.55 respectively for Galicia, Madrid and Granada) than models specifically calibrated within each region at 10 km (0.47, 0.65, 0.44). Indeed, it also had a better accuracy when projected at 50 m (0.77, 0.91, 0.79) than models fitted at that resolution (0.62, 0.83, 0.96) in two of the three cases. The success of scaling model predictions decreased along the biogeographic gradient, being these differences associated to niche truncation. Models representing non‐truncated niches were more successfully scaled across resolutions and extents (particularly in areas not offering all possible habitats for species), which has important implications for SDM applications.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Área de Ecología, Depto de Biodiversidad y Gestión Ambiental, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales, Univ. de León, Campus de Vegazana s/n, ES-24071 León (León), Spain. 2: Área de Ecología, Depto de Biodiversidad y Gestión Ambiental, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales, Univ. de León, Campus de Vegazana s/n, ES-24071 León (León), Spain.

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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