Niches, models, and climate change: Assessing the assumptions and uncertainties

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this paper provides a brief perspective on “ecological niches” - describing how niche thinking and modeling have been used to project changes in the distributions of species, and assessing several related assumptions and uncertainties. These areas are illustrated using examples from research on California birds. The paper concludes with an assessment the usefulness of niche-based models for projecting climate-change impacts on biodiversity and the resulting implications for conservation and management.

The paper Illustrates the application of species distribution models (SDMs) using two climate models and two distributional algorithms, together with information on distributional shifts in vegetation types, to project fine-scale future distributions of 60 California landbird species. These analyses are used to consider how assumptions can be addressed and uncertainties reduced. Most supporting information listed in the publication's references is linked to additional articles, statistics, models and relevant research.



Publication Date: August 28, 2009

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • John A. Wiens
  • Diana Stralberg
  • Dennis Jongsomjit
  • Christine A. Howell
  • Mark A. Snyder

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Case study

States Affected:


  • Air temperature

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