Rapacciuolo G, Roy DB, Gillings S, Purvis A

Conservation planners often wish to predict how species distributions will change in response to environmental changes. Species distribution models (SDMs) which identify statistical correlations between species presence/absence and various land cover and climate explanatory variables are increasingly used to generate such predictions. However, it is now widely acknowledged that predictions from SDMs are subject to uncertainties stemming from several limitations and over-simplistic assumptions. We develop a new tool – the temporal validation (TV) plot – specifically aimed at making use of species’ distribution records at two times to comprehensively assess how well SDMs are able to predict species’ distribution changes under environmental change. TV plots and their associated measures offer a simple tool for testing how well SDMs model species’ observed range changes – perhaps the best way available to assess whether they are able to generate reliable predictions of likely future changes.

Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5

Keywords: species distribution models, temporal validation, prediction accuracy, range change, calibration plots, historic surveys