Using species distribution modeling for plant conservation
Shannon M. Still,
Department of Plant Science and Conservation, Chicago Botanic Garden
Species distribution modeling (SDM) has been used to identify current and future species habitat, to find new occurrences for rare species, to identify the spread of invasive plants, and to assess future vulnerability to environmental change. SDM aims to describe a species' range using a combination of GIS and ecological techniques. Common modeling methods use spatial data to identify other geographic areas that have a similar ecological niche to the known occurences of a species. Using SDM Dr. Still uses species distribution modeling to examine the potential range change for over 500 species of rare plants endemic to the western United States. While this is one possible use for SDM, there are many uses for the methods that could be helpful for both botanists and ecologists. Dr. Still will cover some of the basic methods and uses for SDM and discuss his ongoing research.