Biodiversity: Habitat Suitability

Authored by: Betty J. Kreakie

Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138333918
eBook ISBN: 9780429445651
Adobe ISBN:


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Habitat suitability quantifies the relationship between species and habitat and is evaluated according to the species’ fitness (i.e., proportion of birth rate to death rate). Even though selecting only optimal habitat might maximize evolutionary success, species are not always in a habitat that optimizes fitness. In fact, species live in habitats that result in varying fitness levels. By studying habitat suitability range and making assumptions about how fitness relates to occupancy, we can make predictions about the probability of occurrence across a landscape. Spatial predictions of occurrence have a wide range of applied uses. Habitat modeling helps make predictions about how species may respond to climate change and other habitat changes. Conservation biologists use models for endangered species protection (e.g., identification of introduction sites and critical habitat). Models can also be used to identify areas that are vulnerable to invasive species. Habitat suitability models simplify a large amount of ecological information and therefore require fastidious interpretation. Despite simplifying assumptions, the results provide insight into large ecological problems.

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