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Spatial sampling bias in the Neotoma paleoecological archives affects species paleo-distribution models

September 7, 2018

The ability to infer paleo-distributions with limited knowledge of absence makes species distribution modeling (SDM) a useful tool for exploring paleobiogeographic questions. Spatial sampling bias is a known issue when modeling extant species. Here we quantify the spatial sampling bias in a North American packrat midden archive and explore its impact on estimating paleo-distributions. We test whether (1) spatial sampling bias inherent in this macrofossil record can influence estimates of paleo-distributions, (2) this bias can alter the ability to measure shifts in distributions and climatic niche breadth from the Northgrippian subdivision of the Holocene (8.3 ka – 4.2 ka) to present day (1950–2000 yr), and (3) bias correction methods can improve estimates of paleo-distributions and analyses of range shifts and niche breadth. We estimate spatial sampling bias for the mid-Holocene period with a three-stage statistical model, each representing a hypothesized source of bias: fossil site availability, preservation and accessibility. This approach enables the use of SDM to evaluate three separate paleo-distributions calibrated on the packrat midden archive: those without bias correction (σ-naïve), those created with a standard method (σ-standard), and those created with a novel alternative (σ-modeled) incorporating the three-stage model of bias. We find that paleo-distributions modeled for the mid-Holocene without bias correction (σ-naïve) provided poor estimates of hindcast paleo-distributions, and that the σ-modeled correction method improved paleo-distributions for our six species with, on average, 50% higher overlap to hindcast distributions than σ-naïve paleo-distributions (σ-standard results fell between σ-naïve and σ-modeled).

Publication Year 2018
Title Spatial sampling bias in the Neotoma paleoecological archives affects species paleo-distribution models
DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.08.015
Authors Rich Inman, Janet Franklin, Todd C. Esque, Kenneth E. Nussear
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Quaternary Science Reviews
Index ID 70241566
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center