The substantial increase in access to geo-referenced data of species presence has allowed the development of predictive models framed within the ecological niche theory. In a context of application, niche models have been used to predict the impact of climate change on species distributions, the impact of invasive species, the risk of disease transmission and the distributions of species abundances. A reliable prediction of species abundances from presence records would be a very useful tool, since recording only presences (vs. abundances) would result in a significant reduction of economic costs. According to the niche theory it is plausible to predict the abundance distributions from presence records, but in practice this is not always true. Despite that this type of application is receiving increasing attention it is still under development. Studies to promote the development of methodologies capable of estimating core biodiversity parameters, such as species abundances, represent an advance to quantify and minimize the loss of biodiversity. The main purpose of this project is to examine under what conditions it is possible to reflect a biologically relevant link between the predictions generated from distributional patterns of species presence and distributions of abundances. The specific objectives of this project are: 1) to examine the predictive capacity as a function of the initial model conditions (types of algorithms, nature and relevance of environmental factors, the scale, and the quality of source data), 2) to examine whether there is intra-specific and inter-specific variability regarding the predictive capability, and underlying causes and 3) to apply the examined procedures to real problems in different contexts, such as evaluation of protected areas, evaluation of the conservation status of species or integrated pest management. To this end we planned to use existing databases containing information on the distribution of presences or presences/absences and geo-referenced species abundances of vertebrates and invertebrates in Spain. The expected outcomes from this project have the potential to serve as a guide regarding capabilities and limitations of species distribution models to predict abundances.
"Can we predict species abundance using presence data? Testing capabilities and limitations of species distribution models" [CGL2014-56416-P] was a project led by Pedro Aragón and Joaquín Hortal from Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), in collaboration with researchers from the Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi, Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME), Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO) – Universidade de Porto and Universidade Estadual de Goiás (UEG), funded by the Spanish National Plan for R+D+i 2015-2016 of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
I am a biogeographer and community ecologist, working as scientific researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC).
I am also external professor of the Postgraduate Course on Ecology and Evolution of the Universidade Federal de Goiás, scientific collaborator of cE3c – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes of the Universidade de Lisboa, and member of eBryo – Research Group on Experimental Bryology.