Habitat Selection and Species Distribution Models

Much of this work has been in collaboration with Jason Matthiopoulos (University of Glasgow) and Geert Aarts (Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies, The Netherlands). Habitat selection and species distribution models are routinely used to detect correlates of space-use and species abundance. Yet, empirical models fit to data from one place or time rarely predict species occurrence or habitat use under different conditions because organisms respond non-linearly to changes in habitat availability. This phenomenon is known as a functional response in the resource selection literature. We have been working to develop more flexible methods for estimating functional responses, with the hope of improving predictions in novel landscapes (e.g., following climate change) [3,5, 6]. In addition, we have shown how many commonly applied models/methods can be interpreted under a spatial point-process framework [4, 8, 9]. I have co-authored review papers discussing methods for treating correlation and location error/missing data issues in telemetry studies [1,2], and also worked to develop new methods for validating species distribution models [7].  These topics represent an active area of research with many opportunities for innovation and improvement.   

1. Fieberg, J., J. Matthiopoulos, M. Hebblewhite, M.S. Boyce, J. L. Frair. 2010. Correlation and studies of habitat selection: problem, red herring, or opportunity? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B 365:2233-2244.

2. Frair, J. L., J. Fieberg, M. Hebblewhite, F. Cagnacci, N. DeCesare, and L Pedrotti. 2010. Resolving issues of imprecise and habitat-biased locations in ecological analyses using GPS telemetry data. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B 365:2187-2200.

3. Matthiopoulos, J., M. Hebblewhite, G. Aarts, and J. Fieberg. 2011. Generalized functional responses for species distributions. Ecology 92:583-589.

4. Aarts, G., J. Fieberg, and J. Matthiopoulos. 2012. Comparative interpretation of count, presence-absence and point methods for species distribution models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 3:177-187.

5. Aarts, G, J. Fieberg, S. Brasseur, and J. Matthiopoulos. 2013. Quantifying the effect of habitat availability on species distributions. Journal of Animal Ecology. 

6. Matthiopoulos, J., J. Fieberg, G. Aarts, H. Beyer, J. Morales, and D. Haydon. 2015. Establishing the link between habitat-selection and population dynamics.  Ecological Monographs 85(3):413-436.

7. Fieberg, J., J.D. Forester, G.M. Street, D.H. Johnson, A.A. ArchMiller, and J. Matthiopoulos. 2017.  Used-habitat calibration plots: A new procedure for validating species distribution, resource selection, and step-selection models. Ecography 40:001-015. doi: 10.1111/ecog.03123.

8. Fieberg, J., Signer, J., Smith, B., & Avgar, T. (2021). A ‘How to’ guide for interpreting parameters in habitat‐selection analyses. Journal of Animal Ecology, 90(5), 1027-1043.

9. Matthiopoulos, J., Fieberg, J., & Aarts, G. 2020. Species-Habitat Associations: Spatial data, predictive models, and ecological insights. University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/217469.

Figure 1 from Aarts et al. (2012)