By Thomas Etherington, Senior Research Leader, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Institute Fellow.
Species distribution models are a computational technique commonly used to map the likely geographic occurrence of organisms. For example, here at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, we use species distribution models to help conserve plants. This conservation occurs in situ by protecting areas that models show are more likely to contain plants of interest, and also conserving plants ex situ by targeting expeditions to areas more likely to have plants from which seeds can be collected for storage in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.
Due to their importance in conservation, species distribution models should, like any scientific computational method, be done in an open manner so that the findings can be replicated and confirmed. Unfortunately, my experience in reading and reviewing scientific papers suggests that many scientists are still using GUI software rather than using a coding approach that enables such replication. I suspect this is probably due to a lack of computational training amongst species distribution modellers, and hence this could be something I could aim to rectify this year as part of my…Continue Reading