Maps of actual or potential species distributions or habitat suitability are required for many aspects of environmental research, resource management, and conservation planning. These applications include biodiversity assessment, biological reserve design, habitat management and restoration, species and habitat conservation plans, population viability analysis, environmental risk assessment, invasive species management, community and ecosystem modeling, and predicting the effects of global environmental change on species and ecosystems. In recent years a burgeoning number of statistical and related methods have been used with mapped biological and environmental data in order to model, or, in some way, spatially interpolate species distributions, and other biospatial variables of interest, over large spatial extents. This practice is known as species distribution modeling (SDM). It has also been referred to as environmental, bioclimatic, or species niche modeling, and habitat suitability modeling, but, in this book, the term SDM will be preferred.
The proliferation of modeling methods applied to SDM, and conflicting results regarding their efficacy and relative merits, is daunting to researchers and resource analysts alike. The lack of integration of modeling and Geographic Information System (GIS) tools can impede the effective implementation of SDM. This book summarizes the key components of, and various approaches to, this problem that have been applied worldwide. This comprehensive summary provides guidance to novice species distribution modelers and also a review of current practices for more advanced practitioners. The book is organized according to a framework for modeling species distributions that has three parts: the ecological, data, and statistical models.