Biodiversity Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (1): 90-98.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.09106

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Ecological niche modeling and its applications in biodiversity conservation

Gengping Zhu*(), Guoqing Liu, Wenjun Bu, Yubao Gao*()   

  1. College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071
  • Received:2012-04-23 Accepted:2012-07-11 Online:2013-02-04
  • Zhu Gengping,Gao Yubao E-mail:gengpingzhu@hotmail.com;ybgao@nankai.edu.cn

Based on the environmental variables that associated with species’ occurrence records, ecological niche modeling (ENM) seeks to characterize environmental conditions suitable for a particular species and then identify where suitable environmental habitats are distributed in the space. Recently, ENM has been used increasingly in biological invasion, conservation biology, biological responses to climate change, disease spatial transmission, and variety aspects of ecology and evolutionary biology research. However, the theoretical background of these applications is generally poorly understood, leading to artifactual conclusions in some studies (e.g. niche differentiation during species’ invasion). In this paper we discuss the relationship between niche and geographic distribution and introduce the theoretical basis of ENM, along with relationships between the niche and ENM. Abiotic/biotic, historical and dispersal factors are three key elements that determine species’ geographic distributions at different scales. By using environmental variables derived from distributional records, ENM is based on observations that already include effects of biotic interactions, therefore ENM is used to characterize somewhere between the realized niche and potential niche, not the fundamental niche. Grinnellian and Eltonian niches are both manifested in ENM calibration, depending on the types of variables used to fit model, the natural spatial scale at which they can be measured, and the dispersal of individuals throughout the environment. Applications of ENM in understanding ecological requirements of species, discovery of new species or populations, nature reserve design, predicting potential invasion, modeling biological responses to climate change, niche conservatism, and species delimitation are discussed in this paper.

Key words: ecological niche modeling, niche conservatism, spatial scale, Grinnellian niche, Eltonian niche, fundamental niche, potential niche, realized niche

Fig. 1

Diagram showing a simplified framework for understanding species distribution adopted from (Soberón & Peterson, 2005; Soberón, 2010). Overlap of the three circles (GO) represents areas of actual distribution, within which environment are favorable (circle A), accessible (circle M), and biologically suitable (circle B) to the species. Area A represents geographic extent of the fundamental ecological niche, and GI represents areas of potential distribution. The open circles represent source populations, whereas the closed circles represent sink populations."

Fig. 2

Relative importance of factors affecting species distributions across spatial scales adopted from (Pearson & Dawson, 2003; Soberón 2007, 2010; Hortal et al., 2010)"

Fig. 3

Ecological niche modeling (ENM) building up the fridge of geographical space and ecological space adopted from (Pearson, 2007)"

1 Araújo MB, Peterson AT (2012) Uses and misuses of bioclimatic envelope modelling.Ecology, 93, 1527-1539.
2 Bourg NA, McShea WJ, Gill DE (2005) Putting a CART before the search: successful habitat prediction for a rare forest herb.Ecology, 86, 2793-2804.
3 Broennimann O, Treier UA, Müller-Scharer H, Thuiller W, Peterson AT, Guisan A (2007) Evidence of climatic niche shift during biological invasion.Ecology Letters, 10, 701-709.
4 Brown JH (1995) Macroecology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
5 Colwell RK, Rangel TF (2009) Hutchinson’s duality: the once and future niche. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,USA, 106, 19651-19658.
6 Dorji S, Vernes K, Rajaratnam R (2011) Habitat correlates of the red panda in the temperate forests of Bhutan.PLOS ONE, 6, e26483.
7 Elton CS (1927) Animal Ecology. Sidgwick and Jackson, London.
8 Etterson JR, Shaw RG (2001) Constraint to adaptive evolution in response to global warming.Science, 294, 151-154.
9 Gaston KJ (2003) The Structure and Dynamics of Geographic Ranges. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
10 Grinnell J (1917) The niche-relationships of the California Thrasher.The Auk, 34, 427-433.
11 Guisan A, Thuiller W (2005) Predicting species distribution: offering more than simple habitat models.Ecology Letters, 8, 993-1009.
12 Hawlitschek O, Porch N, Hendrich L, Balke M (2011) Ecological niche modelling and nDNA sequencing support a new, morphologically cryptic beetle species unveiled by DNA Barcoding.PLOS ONE, 6, e16662.
13 Hijmans RJ, Cameron SE, Parra JL, Jones PG, Jarvis A (2005) Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas.International Journal of Climatology, 25, 1965-1978.
14 Hirzel AH, Hausser J, Chessel D, Perrin N (2002) Ecological-niche factor analysis: how to compute habitat-suitability maps without absence data ?Ecology, 83, 2027-2036.
15 Holt RD (2003) On the evolutionary ecology of species’ ranges.Evolutionary Ecology Research, 5, 159-178.
16 Hortal J, Roura-Pascual N, Sanders NJ, Rahbek C (2010) Understanding (insect) species distributions across spatial scales.Ecography, 33, 51-53.
17 Hutchinson GE (1957) Concluding remarks.Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology, 22, 415-427.
18 Irfan-Ullah M, Amarnath G, Murthy MSR, Peterson AT (2007) Mapping the geographic distribution of Aglaia bourdillonii Gamble (Meliaceae), an endemic and threatened plant, using ecological niche modeling.Plant Conservation and Biodiversity, 16, 1917-1925.
19 Jackson ST, Overpeck JT (2000) Responses of plant populations and communities to environmental changes of the late Quaternary.Paleobiology, 26, 194-220.
20 Leaché AD, Koo MS, Spencer CL, Papenfuss TJ, Fisher RN, McGuire JA (2009) Quantifying ecological, morphological, and genetic variation to delimit species in the coast horned lizard species complex (Phrynosoma). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 106, 12418-12423.
21 Luoto M, Heikkinen RK, Pöyry J, Saarinen K (2006) Determinants of the biogeographical distribution of butterflies in boreal regions.Journal of Biogeography, 33, 1764-1778.
22 Mackey BG, Lindenmayer DB (2001) Towards a hierarchical framework for modelling the spatial distribution of animals.Journal of Biogeography, 28, 1147-1166.
23 McCormack JE, Zellmer AJ, Knowles LL (2010) Does niche divergence accompany allopatric divergence in Aphelocoma jays as predicted under ecological speciation? Insights from tests with niche models.Evolution, 64, 1231-1244.
24 Medley KA (2010) Niche shifts during the global invasion of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus Skuse (Culicidae), revealed by reciprocal distribution models.Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19, 122-133.
25 Menon S, Choudhury BI, Khan ML, Peterson AT (2010) Ecological niche modeling and local knowledge predict new populations of Gymnocladus assamicus, a critically endangered tree species.Endangered Species Research, 11, 175-181.
26 Owens HL, Bentley AC, Peterson AT (2011) Predicting suitable environments and potential occurrences for coelacanths (Latimeria spp.).Biodiversity and Conservation, 21, 577-587.
27 Pearson RG (2007) Species’ distribution modeling for conservation educators and practitioners. Synthesis. American Museum of Natural History..
28 Pearson RG, Dawson TP (2003) Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of species: are bioclimate envelope models useful ?Global Ecology and Biogeography, 12, 361-371.
29 Peterson AT (2011) Ecological niche conservatism: a time-structured review of evidence.Journal of Biogeography, 38, 817-827.
30 Peterson AT, Nakazawa Y (2008) Environmental data sets matter in ecological niche modelling: an example with Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri.Global Ecology and Biogeography, 17, 135-144.
31 Peterson AT, Navarro-Sigüenza AG (2009) Making biodiversity discovery more efficient: an exploratory test using Mexican birds.Zootaxa, 2246, 58-66.
32 Peterson AT, Ortega-Huerta MA, Bartley J, Sánchez-Cordero V, Soberón J, Buddemeier RH, Stockwell DRB (2002) Future projections for Mexican faunas under global climate change scenarios. Nature, 416, 626-629.
33 Peterson AT, Soberón J (2012) Integrating fundamental concepts of ecology, biogeography, and sampling into effective ecological niche modeling and species distribution modeling.Plant Biosystems, 146, 789-796.
34 Peterson AT, Soberón J, Pearson RG, Anderson RP, Nakamura M, Martínez-Meyer E, Araújo MB (2011) Ecological Niches and Geographical Distributions. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
35 Peterson AT, Soberón J, Sánchez-Cordero V (1999) Conservatism of ecological niches in evolutionary time.Science, 285, 1265-1267.
36 Petitpierre B, Kueffer C, Broennimann O, Randin C, Daehler C, Guisan A (2012) Climatic niche shifts are rare among terrestrial plant invaders.Science, 335, 1344-1348.
37 Pulliam HR (2000) On the relationship between niche and distribution.Ecology Letters, 3, 349-361.
38 Raxworthy CJ, Ingram CM, Rabibisoa N, Pearson RG (2007) Applications of ecological niche modeling for species delimitation: a review and empirical evaluation using day geckos (Phelsuma) from Madagascar.Systematic Biology, 56, 907-923.
39 Raxworthy CJ, Martínez-Meyer E, Horning N, Nussbaum RA, Schneider GE, Ortega-Huerta MA, Peterson AT (2003) Predicting distributions of known and unknown reptile species in Madagascar.Nature, 426, 837-841.
40 Rissler LJ, Apodaca JJ (2007) Adding more ecology into species delimitation: ecological niche models and phylogeography help define cryptic species in the Black Salamander (Aneides flavipunctatus).Systematic Biology, 56, 924-942.
41 Robinson LM, Elith J, Hobday AJ, Pearson RG, Kendall BE, Possingham HP, Richardson AJ (2011) Pushing the limits in marine species distribution modelling: lessons from the land present challenges and opportunities.Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20, 789-802.
42 Rödder D, Lötters S (2009) Niche shift versus niche conservatism? Climatic characteristics of the native and invasive ranges of the Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus).Global Ecology and Biogeography, 18, 674-687.
43 Saupe E, Barve V, Myers C, Soberón J, Barve N, Hensz C, Peterson AT, Owens HL, Lira-Noriega A (2012) Variation in niche and distribution model performance: the need for a priori assessment of key causal factors.Ecological Modelling, 237, 11-22.
44 Sillero N (2011) What does ecological modelling model? A proposed classification of ecological niche models based on their underlying methods.Ecological Modelling, 222, 1343-1346.
45 Soberón J (2007) Grinnellian and Eltonian niches and geographic distributions of species.Ecology Letters, 10, 1115-1123.
46 Soberón J, Peterson AT (2005) Interpretation of models of fundamental ecological niches and species' distributional areas.Biodiversity Informatics, 2, 1-10.
47 Soberón JM (2010) Niche and area of distribution modeling: a population ecology perspective.Ecography, 33, 159-167.
48 Svenning JC, Skov F (2004) Limited filling of the potential range in European tree species.Ecology Letters, 7, 565-573.
49 Thuiller W, Lavorel S, Araújo MB, Sykes MT, Prentice IC (2005) Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 102, 8245-8250.
50 Warren DL (2012) In defense of niche modeling.Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 27, 497-500.
51 Warren DL, Glor RE, Turelli M (2008) Environmental niche equivalency versus conservatism: quantitative approaches to niche evolution.Evolution, 62, 2868-2883.
52 Warren DL, Glor RE, Turelli M (2010) ENMTools: a toolbox for comparative studies of environmental niche models.Ecography, 33, 607-611.
53 Whittaker RJ, Araújo MB, Jepson P, Ladle RJ, Watson JEM, Willis KJ (2005) Conservation biogeography: assessment and prospect.Diversity and Distributions, 11, 3-23.
54 Willis KJ, Whittaker RJ (2002) Species diversity―scale matters.Science, 295, 1245-1248.
55 Wiens JJ, Graham CH (2005) Niche conservatism: integrating evolution, ecology, and conservation biology.Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 36, 519-539.
56 Zhou WW, Wen Y, Fu JZ, Xu YB, Jin JQ, Ding L, Min MS, Che J, Zhang YP (2012) Speciation in the Rana chensinensis species complex and its relationship to the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.Molecular Ecology, 21, 960-973.
57 Zhu G, Bu W, Gao Y, Liu G (2012a) Potential geographic distribution of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug invasion (Halyomorpha halys).PLOS ONE, 7, e31246.
58
59 Zhu GP, Petersen MJ, Bu WJ (2012b) Selecting biological meaningful environmental dimensions of low discrepancy among ranges to predict potential distribution of bean plataspid invasion.PLOS ONE, 7, e46247.
60 Zhu L, Sun OJ, Sang WG, Li ZY, Ma KP (2007) Predicting the spatial distribution of an invasive plant species (Eupatorium adenophorum) in China.Landscape Ecology, 22, 1143-1154.
[1] HAO Shu-Jun, LI Xiao-Yu, HOU Man-Man, ZHAO Xiu-Hai. Spatial variations of community functional traits at different successional stages in temperate forests of Changbai Mountains, Northeast China [J]. Chin J Plant Ecol, 2019, 43(3): 208-216.
[2] Hongfei Zhuang,Yinbo Zhang,Wei Wang,Yueheng Ren,Fangzheng Liu,Jinhong Du,Yue Zhou. Optimized hot spot analysis for probability of species distribution under different spatial scales based on MaxEnt model: Manglietia insignis case [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2018, 26(9): 931-940.
[3] Meixiang Gao, Lin Lin, Liang Chang, Xin Sun, Dong Liu, Donghui Wu. Spatial patterns and assembly rules in soil fauna communities: A review [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2018, 26(10): 1034-1050.
[4] Junwei Ye, Yongge Yuan, Li Cai, Xiaojuan Wang. Research progress of phylogeographic studies of plant species in temperate coniferous and broadleaf mixed forests in Northeastern China [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2017, 25(12): 1339-1349.
[5] Shanshan Tan, Renren Wang, Xiaoling Gong, Jiayao Cai, Guochun Shen. Scale dependent effects of species diversity and structural diversity on aboveground biomass in a tropical forest on Barro Colorado Island, Panama [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2017, 25(10): 1054-1064.
[6] Siyuan Ren,Ting Wang,Yan Zhu,Yongzhong Ye,Zhiliang Yuan,Cong Li,Na Pan,Luxin Li. Phylogenetic structure of individuals with different DBH sizes in a deciduous broad-leaved forest community in the temperate-subtropical ecological transition zone, China [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2014, 22(5): 574-582.
[7] WU Yu-Peng, XU Han, LI Yi-De, LUO Tu-Shou, CHEN De-Xiang, LIN Ming-Xian, and YANG Huai. Associations between species richness and individual densities of varying spatial scales and diameter classifications in tropical montane rainforest in Jianfengling, Hainan Island, China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2014, 38(4): 325-333.
[8] Gengping Zhu,Qiang Liu,Yubao Gao. Improving ecological niche model transferability to predict the potential distribution of invasive exotic species [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2014, 22(2): 223-230.
[9] Cheng Gao,Liangdong Guo. Distribution pattern and maintenance of ectomycorrhizal fungus diversity [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2013, 21(4): 488-498.
[10] LIU Ning, SUN Peng-Sen, LIU Shi-Rong, and SUN Ge. Determination of spatial scale of response unit for the WASSI-C eco-hydrological model—a case study on the upper Zagunao River watershed of China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2013, 37(2): 132-141.
[11] PENG Shou-Zhang, ZHAO Chuan-Yan, XU Zhong-Lin, WANG Chao, LIU Yi-Yue. Potential distribution of Qinghai spruce and assessment of its growth status in the upper reaches of the Heihe River in the Qilian Mountains of China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2011, 35(6): 605-614.
[12] HUANG Jian-Xiong, ZHENG Feng-Ying, MI Xiang-Cheng. Influence of environmental factors on phylogenetic structure at multiple spatial scales in an evergreen broad-leaved forest of China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2010, 34(3): 309-315.
[13] Wenhong Ma, Jingyun Fang. The relationship between species richness and productivity in four typical grasslands of northern China [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2006, 14(1): 21-28.
[14] ZHANG Yuan-Dong, XU Ying-Tao, GU Feng-Xue, PAN Xiao-Ling. Correlation Analysis of NDVI With Climate and Hydrological Factors in Oasis and Desert [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2003, 27(6): 816-822.
[15] Yang Li-Min, ZHOU Guang-Sheng, WANG Guo-Hong. Investigating Realized Niches as a Mechanism of Species Diversity Maintenance in a Species-Rich Grassland Community [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2001, 25(5): 634-638.
Viewed
Full text


Abstract

Cited

  Shared   
  Discussed   
[1] Quanying Du, Zhi Li, Shurun Liu, Hongyan Liu. Dynamics of species diversity and characteristics of halophytic plant communities around saline lakes in arid and semi-arid regions of Inner Mongolia[J]. Biodiv Sci, 2007, 15(3): 271 -281 .
[2] Zhigang Jiang,Yong Ma,Yi Wu,Yingxiang Wang,Zuojian Feng,Kaiya Zhou,Shaoying Liu,Zhenhua Luo,Chunwang Li. China’s mammalian diversity[J]. Biodiv Sci, 2015, 23(3): 351 -364 .
[3] WU Fu-Zhong, YANG Wan-Qin, ZHANG Jian, ZHOU Li-Qiang. Effects of cadmium stress on growth and nutrient accumulation, distribution and utilization in Osmanthus fragrans var. thunbergii[J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2010, 34(10): 1220 -1226 .
[4] HU Bao-Zhong, LIU Di, HU Guo-Fu, ZHANG A-Ying, JIANG Shu-Jun. Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA Study of Local Breeds in Chinese lfalfa[J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2000, 24(6): 697 -701 .
[5] WANG Xi-Qun, MA Lu-Yi, GUO Bao-Xiang, GE Ji-Wen, FAN Shen-Hou. The conservation of Metasequoia glyptostroboides and its current problems in China[J]. Biodiv Sci, 2004, 12(3): 377 -385 .
[6] Jiang-Qun LIU, Ming-Yu YIN, Si-Yu ZUO, Shao-Bing YANG, Tana WUYUN. Phenotypic variations in natural populations of Amygdalus pedunculata[J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2017, 41(10): 1091 -1102 .
[7] Qin SUN, Xiao-Rong WANG, Shi-Ming DING,Xin-Fang YUAN. Effects of Interaction Between Cadmium and Plumbum on Phytochelatins and Glutathione Production in Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)[J]. J Integr Plant Biol, 2005, 47(4): .
[8] HE Wei-Ming and ZHONG Zhang-Cheng. Effects of Soil Fertility on Gynostemma pentaphyllum Makino Population Behavior[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1999, 16(04): 425 -428 .
[9] Brett J. Ferguson, Arief Indrasumunar, Satomi Hayashi, Meng-Han Lin, Yu-Hsiang Lin, Dugald E. Reid and Peter M. Gresshoff. Molecular Analysis of Legume Nodule Development and Autoregulation[J]. J Integr Plant Biol, 2010, 52(1): 61 -76 .
[10] Li Linghao. Effects of Land-use Change on Soil Carbon Storage in Grassland Ecosystems[J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 1998, 22(4): 300 -302 .