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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54179. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054179. Epub 2013 Jan 17.

Assessing community-level and single-species models predictions of species distributions and assemblage composition after 25 years of land cover change.

Author information

1
INRA, UMR1201 DYNAFOR, Castanet-Tolosan, France. bonthoux.sebastien@gmail.com

Abstract

To predict the impact of environmental change on species distributions, it has been hypothesized that community-level models could give some benefits compared to species-level models. In this study we have assessed the performance of these two approaches. We surveyed 256 bird communities in an agricultural landscape in southwest France at the same locations in 1982 and 2007. We compared the ability of CQO (canonical quadratic ordination; a method of community-level GLM) and GLMs (generalized linear models) to i) explain species distributions in 1982 and ii) predict species distributions, community composition and species richness in 2007, after land cover change. Our results show that models accounting for shared patterns between species (CQO) slightly better explain the distribution of rare species than models that ignore them (GLMs). Conversely, the predictive performances were better for GLMs than for CQO. At the assemblage level, both CQO and GLMs overestimated species richness, compared with that actually observed in 2007, and projected community composition was only moderately similar to that observed in 2007. Species richness projections tended to be more accurate in sites where land cover change was more marked. In contrast, the composition projections tended to be less accurate in those sites. Both modelling approaches showed a similar but limited ability to predict species distribution and assemblage composition under conditions of land cover change. Our study supports the idea that our community-level model can improve understanding of rare species patterns but that species-level models can provide slightly more accurate predictions of species distributions. At the community level, the similar performance of both approaches for predicting patterns of assemblage variation suggests that species tend to respond individualistically or, alternatively, that our community model was unable to effectively account for the emergent community patterns.

PMID:
23349818
PMCID:
PMC3547884
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0054179
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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