Modeling the distribution of Populus euphratica in the Heihe River Basin, an inland river basin in an arid region of China
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Populus euphratica is a dominant tree species in riparian Tugai forests and forms a natural barrier that maintains the stability of local oases in arid inland river basins. Despite being critical information for local environmental protection and recovery, establishing the specific spatial distribution of P. euphratica has rarely been attempted via precise and reliable species distribution models in such areas. In this research, the potential geographic distribution of P. euphratica in the Heihe River Basin was simulated with MaxEnt software based on species occurrence data and 29 environmental variables. The result showed that in the Heihe River Basin, 820 km2 of land primarily distributed along the banks of the lower reaches of the river is a suitable habitat for P. euphratica. We built other MaxEnt models based on different environmental variables and another eight models employing different mathematical algorithms based on the same 29 environmental variables to demonstrate the superiority of this method. MaxEnt based on 29 environmental variables performed the best among these models, as it precisely described the essential characteristics of the distribution of P. euphratica forest land. This study verified that MaxEnt can serve as an effective tool for species distribution in extremely arid regions with sufficient and reliable environmental variables. The results suggest that there may be a larger area of P. euphratica forest distribution in the study area and that ecological conservation and management of P. euphratica should prioritize suitable habitat. This research provides valuable insights for the conservation and management of degraded P. euphratica riparian forests.
KeywordsPopulus euphratica MaxEnt Species distribution models Model comparison Inland river basin
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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91425303), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XDA20100104) and the 13th Five-year Informatization Plan of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. XXH13505–06).
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