Patch context is a way to describe the effect that the surroundings exert on a landscape patch. Despite anthropogenic context alteration may affect species distributions by reducing the accessibility to suitable patches, species distribution modelling have rarely accounted for its effects explicitly. We propose a general framework to statistically detect the occurrence and the extent of such a factor, by combining presence-only data, spatial distribution models and information-theoretic model selection procedures. After having established the spatial resolution of the analysis on the basis of the species characteristics, a measure of anthropogenic alteration that can be quantified at increasing distance from each patch has to be defined. Then the distribution of the species is modelled under competing hypotheses: H0, assumes that the distribution is uninfluenced by the anthropogenic variables; H1, assumes the effect of alteration at the species scale (resolution); and H2, H3 … Hn add the effect of context alteration at increasing radii. Models are compared using the Akaike Information Criterion to establish the best hypothesis, and consequently the occurrence (if any) and the spatial scale of the anthropogenic effect. As a study case we analysed the distribution data of two insular lizards (one endemic and one naturalised) using four alternative hypotheses: no alteration (H0), alteration at the species scale (H1), alteration at two context scales (H2 and H3). H2 and H3 performed better than H0 and H1, highlighting the importance of context alteration. H2 performed better than H3, setting the spatial scale of the context at 1 km. The two species respond differently to context alteration, the introduced lizard being more tolerant than the endemic one. The proposed approach supplies reliably and interpretable results, uses easily available data on species distribution, and allows the assessing of the spatial scale at which human disturbance produces the heaviest effects.

Assessing the spatial scale effect of anthropogenic factors on species distribution

SACCHI, ROBERTO;
2013

Abstract

Patch context is a way to describe the effect that the surroundings exert on a landscape patch. Despite anthropogenic context alteration may affect species distributions by reducing the accessibility to suitable patches, species distribution modelling have rarely accounted for its effects explicitly. We propose a general framework to statistically detect the occurrence and the extent of such a factor, by combining presence-only data, spatial distribution models and information-theoretic model selection procedures. After having established the spatial resolution of the analysis on the basis of the species characteristics, a measure of anthropogenic alteration that can be quantified at increasing distance from each patch has to be defined. Then the distribution of the species is modelled under competing hypotheses: H0, assumes that the distribution is uninfluenced by the anthropogenic variables; H1, assumes the effect of alteration at the species scale (resolution); and H2, H3 … Hn add the effect of context alteration at increasing radii. Models are compared using the Akaike Information Criterion to establish the best hypothesis, and consequently the occurrence (if any) and the spatial scale of the anthropogenic effect. As a study case we analysed the distribution data of two insular lizards (one endemic and one naturalised) using four alternative hypotheses: no alteration (H0), alteration at the species scale (H1), alteration at two context scales (H2 and H3). H2 and H3 performed better than H0 and H1, highlighting the importance of context alteration. H2 performed better than H3, setting the spatial scale of the context at 1 km. The two species respond differently to context alteration, the introduced lizard being more tolerant than the endemic one. The proposed approach supplies reliably and interpretable results, uses easily available data on species distribution, and allows the assessing of the spatial scale at which human disturbance produces the heaviest effects.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/675814
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