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Oecologia. 2006 Sep;149(3):396-405. Epub 2006 Jun 14.

Can occupancy patterns be used to predict distributions in widely separated geographic regions?

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Departamento de Química Analítica y Ecología, Area de Ecología, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus the Rabanales, Córdoba 14071, Spain.


Occupancy models, that describe the presence and absence patterns of a species in a given area, are increasingly being used to predict the occurrence of the species in unsurveyed sites, as an aid to conservation planning. In this paper, we consider whether conclusions about local distributions derived from one landscape can be extrapolated to others. We found that habitat patchiness influenced the distribution and abundance of the host-specific moth Wheeleria spilodactylus in a similar way in two landscapes widely separated geographically. In both geographic regions, the spatial location (positive effect of connectivity), and quantity of resource (positive effect of host plant density) increased the likelihood that the moth would be present, consistent with the expectations of metapopulation dynamics. Though some biological attributes of the species appeared to be slightly different, including population density and the timing of the life cycle (phenology), occupancy patterns in one landscape accurately predict occupancy in the other landscape. Our results suggest that it maybe possible to make predictions from one landscape to another, even when the landscapes are widely separated.

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