Two predictive modelling principles are discussed: multiple regression (MR) and neural networks (NN). The MR principle of linear modelling often gives low performance when relationships between variables are nonlinear; this is often the case in ecology; some variables must therefore be transformed. Despite these manipulations, the results often remain disappointing: poor prediction, dependence of residuals on the variable to predict. On the other hand NN are nonlinear type models. They do not necessitate transformation of variables and can give better results. The application of these two techniques to a set of ecological data (study of the relationship between density of brown trout spawning sites (redds) and habitat characteristics), shows that NN are clearly more performant than MR ( R 2 = 0.96 vs R 2 = 0.47 or R 2 = 0.72 in raw variables or nonlinear transformed variables). With the calculation power now currently available, NN are easy to implement and can thus be recommended for modelling of a number ecological processes.
Ecological Modelling – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 1996
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