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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of Dispersal-Related Factors on Species Distribution Model Accuracy for Boreal Lake Ecosystems

Hallstan, Simon; Johnson, Richard; Sandin, Leonard


Species distribution modeling is used in applied ecology; for example in predicting the consequences of global change. However, questions still remain about the robustness of model predictions. Here we estimate effects of landscape spatial configuration and organism flight ability-factors related to dispersal-on the accuracy of species distribution models. Distribution models were developed for 129 phytoplankton taxa, 164 littoral invertebrate taxa and 44 profundal invertebrate taxa sampled in 105 Swedish lakes, using six different modeling techniques (generalized linear models (GLM), multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS), classification tree analysis (CTA), mixture discriminant analysis (MDA), generalized boosting models (GBM) and random forests (RF)). Model accuracy was not affected by dispersal ability (i.e., invertebrate flight ability), but the accuracy of phytoplankton assemblage predictions and, to a lesser extent, littoral invertebrate assemblages were related to ecosystem size and connectivity. Although no general pattern across species or spatial configuration was evident from our study, we recommend that dispersal and spatial configuration of ecosystems should be considered when developing species distribution models.


colonization; connectivity; dispersal; freshwater; invertebrates; phytoplankton; species distribution models

Published in

2013, Volume: 5, number: 2, pages: 393-408