Transferability of habitat suitability models (HSMs), essential to accurately predict outside calibration conditions, has been seldom investigated at intraspecific level. We targeted Vipera ursinii ursinii, a meadow viper from southeastern France and central Italy, to assess determinants of transferability among geographically disjunct populations. We fitted HSMs upon occurrences of the Italian and French populations separately, as well as on the combined occurrence dataset. Internal transferability of HSMs, on spatially independent test data drawn from the calibration region, and their external transferability on the geographically disjunct populations were evaluated according to (a) use of full or spatially rarefied presence datasets; (b) ecology-driven or statistics-driven filtering of predictors; (c) modeling algorithm, testing generalized additive models and gradient boosting models; and (d) multivariate environmental novelty within test data. Niche overlap between French and Italian populations was also tested. Niche overlap was low, but niche divergence between the two populations’ clusters was not corroborated. Nonetheless, wider niche breadth and heterogeneity of background environmental conditions characterizing the French populations led to low intercluster transferability. Although models fitted on the combined datasets did not attain consistently higher internal transferability than those separately fitted for the French and Italian populations, ensemble projection from the HSMs fitted on the joint occurrences produced more consistent suitability predictions across the full range of V. u. ursinii. Spatial thinning of occurrences ameliorated internal transferability but did not affect external transferability. The two approaches to predictors filtering did not differ in transferability of the respective HSMs but led to discrepant estimated environment–occurrence relationships and spatial predictions, while the two algorithms attained different relative rankings depending on the considered prediction task. Multivariate novelty of projection sites was negatively correlated to both internal transferability and external transferability. Our findings clarify issues researchers should keep in mind when using HSMs to get predictions across geographically disjunct populations.

Determinants of habitat suitability models transferability across geographically disjunct populations: Insights from Vipera ursinii ursinii

Cerasoli, Francesco
;
D'Alessandro, Paola;Iannella, Mattia;Biondi, Maurizio
2021

Abstract

Transferability of habitat suitability models (HSMs), essential to accurately predict outside calibration conditions, has been seldom investigated at intraspecific level. We targeted Vipera ursinii ursinii, a meadow viper from southeastern France and central Italy, to assess determinants of transferability among geographically disjunct populations. We fitted HSMs upon occurrences of the Italian and French populations separately, as well as on the combined occurrence dataset. Internal transferability of HSMs, on spatially independent test data drawn from the calibration region, and their external transferability on the geographically disjunct populations were evaluated according to (a) use of full or spatially rarefied presence datasets; (b) ecology-driven or statistics-driven filtering of predictors; (c) modeling algorithm, testing generalized additive models and gradient boosting models; and (d) multivariate environmental novelty within test data. Niche overlap between French and Italian populations was also tested. Niche overlap was low, but niche divergence between the two populations’ clusters was not corroborated. Nonetheless, wider niche breadth and heterogeneity of background environmental conditions characterizing the French populations led to low intercluster transferability. Although models fitted on the combined datasets did not attain consistently higher internal transferability than those separately fitted for the French and Italian populations, ensemble projection from the HSMs fitted on the joint occurrences produced more consistent suitability predictions across the full range of V. u. ursinii. Spatial thinning of occurrences ameliorated internal transferability but did not affect external transferability. The two approaches to predictors filtering did not differ in transferability of the respective HSMs but led to discrepant estimated environment–occurrence relationships and spatial predictions, while the two algorithms attained different relative rankings depending on the considered prediction task. Multivariate novelty of projection sites was negatively correlated to both internal transferability and external transferability. Our findings clarify issues researchers should keep in mind when using HSMs to get predictions across geographically disjunct populations.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/161629
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