Distribution of Species

  • Marcelo Hernán Cassini


Ecological distribution models at the species level are applied to the whole range of species, although they are also frequently used at regional or national scales. In the first case, the subject of distribution ecology approaches that of ecological biogeography and niche ecology, depending on whether the main interest of the researcher is in producing distribution maps or reconstructing species’ ecological requirements. Section 7.2 forms the bulk of this chapter and describes the so-called species distribution models, which can be considered equivalent to the site suitability models described in Sects. 2.4 and 3.2, with the main differences being that they are applied on a coarser scale and use a wider range of statistical tools and some of them can be used to produce distribution maps. Species distribution models have three characteristics: (1) they apply to groups of populations at a coarse scale; (2) they emphasise the effect of environmental variables on internal processes; and (3) they do not use populations as the unit of study (with associated measurements of birth, death, and migration parameters), but the set of individuals is defined by categories determined by environmental heterogeneity or by arbitrary divisions of space (in most cases, cells on a grid superimposed on the landscape). Section 7.3 deals with the hypotheses that try to explain the shape of the function that best fits the distribution of species abundance within a biogeographic range and is almost entirely based on the analysis of Gaston (2003). Section 7.4 describes models at the level of species that are based on the physiological mechanisms involved in determining the causes of limits in species’ ranges, while the last section describes how species distribution models can be improved by incorporating information on behavioural traits of the target species.


Coarse Scale Species Distribution Model Elephant Seal Sexual Segregation Associative Model 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Hernán Cassini
    • 1
  1. 1.National Scientific and Technical Research Council & Luján UniversityBuenos AiresArgentina

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