Integration of water balance in species distribution models of Mexican trees

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Authors: Vaca, R.A. and Golicher, D.J.

Journal: Botanical Sciences

Volume: 94

Issue: 1

Pages: 2037-2043

eISSN: 2007-4476

ISSN: 2007-4298

DOI: 10.17129/botsci.241

© 2016, Sociedad Botanica de Mexico, A.C. All rights reserved. Species distribution models are typically based on relationships between species occurrence and simple climatic variables. An alternative strategy is to use mechanistic or semi-mechanistic models that incorporate variables that are known to have important effects on physiological responses of the organisms. We compared models built using simple climatic variables with models incorporating calculations of monthly soil water balance when predicting the distribution of 258 Mexican tree species associated with five different ecosystems. The species chosen varied in their degree of exposure to periods of drought. Water balance was calculated using a bucket model that integrated the effects of evapotranspiration and rainfall over a year. Models incorporating calculated soil water balance were contrasted with models that used net annual rainfall as a measure of variability in water availability. The effects of mean annual temperature and temperature range were included in both sets of models. More detailed water balance models showed a significantly improved ability to predict the distribution of some, but not all, species. The observed increase in mean AUC when replacing Panualby DHanualwas higher for the group of species of xeric scrub (0.15), intermediate for the group of species of deciduous tropical forests (0.09), and significant, but comparatively low for the group of species of tropical moist forests (0.07). Calculated water balance did not improve predictions for species found in montane forests. We conclude that including detailed calculations of soil water balance can improve the species distribution models in areas of both moist and dry warm tropical forests, where temperature remains comparatively constant. However including variability in soil water balance is less important when species distributions are limited by the effect of elevation on temperature. Model predictions could be further refined through the incorporation of soil parameters and geomorphological variability at a local scales.

This data was imported from Web of Science (Lite):

Authors: Vaca, R.A. and Golicher, D.J.

Journal: Botanical Sciences

Volume: 94

Issue: 1

Pages: 25-42

eISSN: 2007-4476

ISSN: 2007-4298

DOI: 10.17129/botsci.241

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