Doug Yanega dyanega at POP.UCR.EDU
Tue Sep 3 17:03:12 CDT 2002

Steven Manning wrote:

>Also, it seems likely that in some cases, when it is a race against time or
>competing interests to save an endangered but poorly collected species or
>ecosystem, the models can be used to predict and thus designate areas most
>urgently needing protection at least temporarily until field work confirms
>or refutes the predictions of the models, based on whatever climatic or
>ecological data are available.  The models could also be used to prioritize
>locations for fieldwork to be undertaken.

That's actually the situation with this modeler I mentioned; the
target species is endangered, and they are proposing to exclude
certain areas from fieldwork (i.e., surveys) because the model
predicts they won't be found there - even though some of the
model-excluded areas contain known, confirmed sightings. The story
I've heard is that the tolerances on the model "had to be narrowed"
because if it was designed to include the habitat parameters of ALL
known observations, the final predicted area would be essentially
every piece of undeveloped land in the entire region, and that was
considered unacceptable and unrealistic. No one seems to be objecting
to this approach, to my knowledge, even though common sense would
seem to dictate that one simply can't trust a model for this
particular species, and that only survey work can tell us where it is
or is not.

Clearly, every organism has habitat preferences, but these
preferences can be overridden in many cases. It seems to me that any
model based solely on preferences is going to miss many marginal
and/or suboptimal areas where a species could (or does) survive, and
for endangered species, especially, that's a VERY risky approach to

What does one do then?


Doug Yanega        Dept. of Entomology         Entomology Research Museum
Univ. of California - Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
phone: (909) 787-4315 (standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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