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Using the Maxent program for species distribution modelling to assess invasion risk

December 31, 2014

MAXENT is a software package used to relate known species occurrences to information describing the environment, such as climate, topography, anthropogenic features or soil data, and forecast the presence or absence of a species at unsampled locations. This particular method is one of the most popular species distribution modelling techniques because of its consistent strong predictive performance and its ease to implement. This chapter discusses the decisions and techniques needed to prepare a correlative climate matching model for the native range of an invasive alien species and use this model to predict the potential distribution of this species in a potentially invaded range (i.e. a novel environment) by using MAXENT for the Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) as a case study. The chapter discusses and demonstrates the challenges that are associated with this approach and examines the inherent limitations that come with using MAXENT to forecast distributions of invasive alien species.