Boosted Regression Trees (BRT) is one of the modelling techniques most recently applied to biodiversity conservation and it can be implemented with presence-only data through the generation of artificial absences (pseudo-absences). In this paper, three pseudo-absences generation techniques are compared, namely the generation of pseudo-absences within target-group background (TGB), testing both the weighted (WTGB) and unweighted (UTGB) scheme, and the generation at random (RDM), evaluating their performance and applicability in distribution modelling and species conservation. The choice of the target group fell on amphibians, because of their rapid decline worldwide and the frequent lack of guidelines for conservation strategies and regional-scale planning, which instead could be provided through an appropriate implementation of SDMs. Bufo bufo, Salamandrina perspicillata and Triturus camifex were considered as target species, in order to perform our analysis with species having different ecological and distributional characteristics. The study area is the "Gran Sasso-Monti della Laga" National Park, which hosts 15 Natura 2000 sites and represents one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Europe. Our results show that the model calibration ameliorates when using the target-group based pseudo-absences compared to the random ones, especially when applying the WTGB. Contrarily, model discrimination did not significantly vary in a consistent way among the three approaches with respect to the tree target species. Both WTGB and RDM clearly isolate the highly contributing variables, supplying many relevant indications for species conservation actions. Moreover, the assessment of pairwise variable interactions and their three-dimensional visualization further increase the amount of useful information for protected areas' managers. Finally, we suggest the use of RDM as an admissible alternative when it is not possible to individuate a suitable set of species as a representative target-group from which the pseudo-absences can be generated.

Comparing pseudo-absences generation techniques in Boosted Regression Trees models for conservation purposes: A case study on amphibians in a protected area

Cerasoli, Francesco;Iannella, Mattia
;
D'Alessandro, Paola;Biondi, Maurizio
2017

Abstract

Boosted Regression Trees (BRT) is one of the modelling techniques most recently applied to biodiversity conservation and it can be implemented with presence-only data through the generation of artificial absences (pseudo-absences). In this paper, three pseudo-absences generation techniques are compared, namely the generation of pseudo-absences within target-group background (TGB), testing both the weighted (WTGB) and unweighted (UTGB) scheme, and the generation at random (RDM), evaluating their performance and applicability in distribution modelling and species conservation. The choice of the target group fell on amphibians, because of their rapid decline worldwide and the frequent lack of guidelines for conservation strategies and regional-scale planning, which instead could be provided through an appropriate implementation of SDMs. Bufo bufo, Salamandrina perspicillata and Triturus camifex were considered as target species, in order to perform our analysis with species having different ecological and distributional characteristics. The study area is the "Gran Sasso-Monti della Laga" National Park, which hosts 15 Natura 2000 sites and represents one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Europe. Our results show that the model calibration ameliorates when using the target-group based pseudo-absences compared to the random ones, especially when applying the WTGB. Contrarily, model discrimination did not significantly vary in a consistent way among the three approaches with respect to the tree target species. Both WTGB and RDM clearly isolate the highly contributing variables, supplying many relevant indications for species conservation actions. Moreover, the assessment of pairwise variable interactions and their three-dimensional visualization further increase the amount of useful information for protected areas' managers. Finally, we suggest the use of RDM as an admissible alternative when it is not possible to individuate a suitable set of species as a representative target-group from which the pseudo-absences can be generated.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/191619
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