5 years ago

On the use of climate covariates in aquatic species distribution models: are we at risk of throwing out the baby with the bath water?

Erik Kellogg, Marie Vergamini, Jessica Reese, Taylor Woods, Daniel J. McGarvey, Mitra Menon, Spencer Tassone
Species distribution models (SDMs) in river ecosystems can incorporate climate information by using air temperature and precipitation as surrogate measures of instream conditions or by using independent models of water temperature and hydrology to link climate to instream habitat. The latter approach is preferable but constrained by the logistical burden of developing water temperature and hydrology models. We therefore assessed whether regional scale, freshwater SDM predictions are fundamentally different when climate data versus instream temperature and hydrology are used as covariates. Maximum entropy (MaxEnt) SDMs were built for 15 freshwater fishes using one of two covariate sets: 1) air temperature and precipitation (climate variables) in combination with physical habitat variables; or 2) water temperature, hydrology (instream variables) and physical habitat. Three procedures were then used to compare results from climate vs instream models. First, equivalence tests assessed average pairwise differences (site-specific comparisons throughout each species’ range) among climate and instream models. Second, ‘congruence’ tests determined how often the same stream segments were assigned high habitat suitability by climate and instream models. Third, Schoener's D and Warren's I niche overlap statistics quantified range-wide similarity in predicted habitat suitability from climate vs instream models. Equivalence tests revealed small, pairwise differences in habitat suitability between climate and instream models (mean pairwise differences in MaxEnt raw scores for all species < 3 × 10–4). Congruence tests showed a strong tendency for climate and instream models to predict high habitat suitability at the same stream segments (median congruence = 68%). D and I statistics reflected a high margin of overlap among climate and instream models (median D = 0.78, median I = 0.96). Overall, we found little support for the hypothesis that SDM predictions are fundamentally different when climate versus instream covariates are used to model fish species’ distributions at the scale of the Columbia Basin.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/ecog.03134

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