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Using a multi-model ensemble approach to determine biodiversity hotspots with limited occurrence data in understudied areas: An example using freshwater mussels in México

May 13, 2022

Species distribution models (SDMs) are an increasingly important tool for conservation particularly for difficult-to-study locations and with understudied fauna. Our aims were to (1) use SDMs and ensemble SDMs to predict the distribution of freshwater mussels in the Pánuco River Basin in Central México; (2) determine habitat factors shaping freshwater mussel occurrence; and (3) use predicted occupancy across a range of taxa to identify freshwater mussel biodiversity hotspots to guide conservation and management. In the Pánuco River Basin, we modeled the distributions of 11 freshwater mussel species using an ensemble approach, wherein multiple SDM methodologies were combined to create a single ensemble map of predicted occupancy. A total of 621 species-specific observations at 87 sites were used to create species-specific ensembles. These predictive species ensembles were then combined to create local diversity hotspot maps. Precipitation during the warmest quarter, elevation, and mean temperature were consistently the most important discriminatory environmental variables among species, whereas land use had limited influence across all taxa. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first freshwater mussel-focused research to use an ensemble approach to determine species distribution and predict biodiversity hotspots. Our study can be used to guide not only current conservation efforts but also prioritize areas for future conservation and study.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Using a multi-model ensemble approach to determine biodiversity hotspots with limited occurrence data in understudied areas: An example using freshwater mussels in México
DOI 10.1002/ece3.8909
Authors Alexander H. Kiser, Kevin S. Cummings, Jeremy S. Tiemann, Chase H. Smith, Nathan Johnson, Roel R. Lopez, Charles R. Randklev
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology and Evolution
Series Number
Index ID 70231655
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center