Evaluating model transferability for a threatened species to adjacent areas: Implications for rock-wallaby conservation

Murray, J. V., Low Choy, S., McAlpine, C. A., Possingham, H. P. and Goldizen, A. W. (2011) Evaluating model transferability for a threatened species to adjacent areas: Implications for rock-wallaby conservation. Austral Ecology, 36 1: 76-89. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2010.02122.x

Author Murray, J. V.
Low Choy, S.
McAlpine, C. A.
Possingham, H. P.
Goldizen, A. W.
Title Evaluating model transferability for a threatened species to adjacent areas: Implications for rock-wallaby conservation
Journal name Austral Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1442-9985
Publication date 2011-02-01
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2010.02122.x
Volume 36
Issue 1
Start page 76
End page 89
Total pages 14
Editor Michael Bull
Place of publication Richmond, VIC, Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Language eng
Subject 0501 Ecological Applications
0502 Environmental Science and Management
0602 Ecology
Formatted abstract
When modelling the distribution of a species, it is often not possible to comprehensively sample the whole distribution of the species and managers may have habitat models based on data from one area that they want to apply in other areas. Hence, an important question is: how accurate are models of the distributions of species when applied beyond the areas where they were developed? A first step in measuring model transferability could be testing models in adjacent areas. We predicted the habitat associations of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) across two spatial scales in two neighbouring study areas in eastern Australia, south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales. We used classification trees for exploratory data analysis of habitat relationships and then applied logistic regression models to predict species occurrence. We assessed the within-area discriminative ability of the habitat models using cross-validation and threshold plots, and tested the predictive ability of the models for adjacent areas using the receiver operating characteristic statistic to determine the area under the curve. We found that models performed well within an area and extrapolating them to adjacent areas resulted in good predictive performance at the site scale but substantially poorer predictive performance at the landscape scale. We conclude that distribution models for wildlife species should only be extrapolated to neighbouring areas with caution when using landscape-scale environmental variables. Alternatively, only key habitat associations predicted by the models at this scale should be transferred across adjacent areas once verified against local knowledge of the ecology of the study species.
© 2010 The Authors  Journal compilation © 2010 Ecological Society of Australia
Keyword Brush-tailed rock-wallaby
Classification tree
Habitat modelling
Model extrapolation
Petrogale penicillata
Spatial scale
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article first published online: 19 April 2010. Author prepress title: "Extrapolating species distribution models to neighbouring regions: A cautionary note".

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Created: Thu, 30 Sep 2010, 01:43:17 EST by Jon Swabey on behalf of School of Biological Sciences