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Implementing and interpreting local-scale invasive species distribution models


Correspondence: Tyler Brummer, 334 Leon Johnson Hall, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences Department, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.




Use of local-scale non-native plant species (NNS) distribution models has the potential to decrease survey effort and improve population prioritization for management. We developed and evaluated data collection methods and minimum sampling requirements to inform local-scale models of NNS distribution. We also evaluated overall model predictive performance for 16 species at two sites and determined how classes of variables contributed to model performance and suggest invasion drivers.


Wyoming and Idaho, USA


A simulation study was used to test the efficiency of different sampling methods to predict imposed species distributions. Empirical distribution models of species occurrence data from two environmentally disparate sites were cross-validated at increasing sample sizes, and the asymptotic maximum predictive performance and relative contribution of classes of variables were determined for 16 NNS.


Transect sampling was the most efficient method for maximizing model performance after accounting for logistics. Minimum sample sizes to reach model maximum predictive performance were similar for the simulation (< 0.5% of study area) and empirical studies (mean of 0.13% using transects). Maximum predictive performance tended to be greater at the site with steeper environmental gradients, and topo-climatic/biotic variables were most important to model improvement.

Main conclusions

Local-scale SDMs can be useful to NNS managers. Using transect methodology, enough data can be collected (ca. 0.13% of the management area) to fit models within logistical/budgetary constraints. These models are most predictive for well-established species as opposed to new invaders and in areas with steeper environmental gradients. Finally, topo-climatic/biotic predictors are the most important variables for predicting more established species, but disturbance and dispersal limitation should be considered and quantified to ensure variables associated with dominant processes are included in the SDM.