Making better species distribution models with improved spatial sampling and taxonomic knowledge

I am pleased to report that a paper I am a co-author on has just been published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. The work shows how species distribution models (SDMs), also referred to as ecological niche models (ENMs) can be improved both by using a phylogenetic framework to refine taxonomic units and also increasing spatial data (Figs. 1 and 2). As usual this is a collaboration between scientists across the world (Europe, Africa and the US), and is the second MPE paper from the PhD of my colleague Gabriela Bittencourt-Silva – congratulations!

The paper is entitled “Impact of species delimitation and sampling on niche models and phylogeographical inference: A case study of the East African reed frog Hyperolius substriatus Ahl, 1931″ and is available online here.


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Fig. 1. Hyperolius substriatus samples used in this study (including samples from Lawson et al. 2013)
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Fig. 2. ‘Splitting’ or ‘lumping’ the species distribution models can have dramatic effects on spatial predictions. Using greater numbers of sampling points with more accurate taxonomic information (from multi gene mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analyses) provide clearer insights into lineage distributions and phylogeography.

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