Abstract. Statistical models of the realized niche of species are increasingly used, but systematic comparisons of alternative methods are still limited. In particular, only few studies have explored the effect of scale in model outputs. In this paper, we investigate the predictive ability of three statistical methods (generalized linear models, generalized additive models and classification tree analysis) using species distribution data at three scales: fine (Catalonia), intermediate (Portugal) and coarse (Europe). Four Mediterranean tree species were modelled for comparison. Variables selected by models were relatively consistent across scales and the predictive accuracy of models varied only slightly. However, there were slight differences in the performance of methods. Classification tree analysis had a lower accuracy than the generalized methods, especially at finer scales. The performance of generalized linear models also increased with scale. At the fine scale GLM with linear terms showed better accuracy than GLM with quadratic and polynomial terms. This is probably because distributions at finer scales represent a linear sub‐sample of entire realized niches of species. In contrast to GLM, the performance of GAM was constant across scales being more data‐oriented. The predictive accuracy of GAM was always at least equal to other techniques, suggesting that this modelling approach is more robust to variations of scale because it can deal with any response shape.
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2003
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