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Mechanistic niche modelling for biogeography and conservation

10 Feb 2022 - Urtzi Enriquez-Urzelai, Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Biology | 16h00
Mechanistic niche modelling for biogeography and conservation

There are two main approaches to model where a species might thrive: correlative and mechanistic niche models. Correlative models correlate species presences (or abundances) with environmental layers to predict the distribution of the focal species. In contrast, mechanistic niche models use equation that reflect the interactions between species’ functional traits (morphology, physiology and behavior) and their environment to predict their performance (e.g. growth, development or reproduction rates) onto the landscape. If a particular site allows the completion of the life cycle and positive population growth, it could be considered inside the organism’s fundamental niche and suitable for the species. Unfortunately, fitting mechanistic niche models represented a challenge until recently. Advances in computational science and in fields such as biophysical ecology and metabolic theory, however, have made mechanistic niche models more accessible and comprehensive. In this talk I will give an overview of mechanistic niche models (focusing on biophysical ecology and dynamic energy budget theory), I will illustrate some applications at the species and population-level, and I will showcase their use in biogeography and conservation employing a recently implemented model: a mechanistic niche model for developing reptile eggs.

Urtzi Enriquez-Urzelai (postdoctoral researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences – Institute of Vertebrate Biology) is a physiological ecologist with a broad interest in macroecology, macroevolution, biogeography and conservation. He has mainly worked on amphibians and reptiles to decipher how phenotypic –e.g. physiological or morphological– traits evolve and how these traits allow them to persist (or not) in particular environments. To that end he has used phylogenetic comparative methods and both correlative and mechanistic niche models, in combination with experimental work focused on different life-stages of developing organisms.

Seminar held as part of the advanced course "Ecological Niche Modelling from theory to Practice".

[Host: Fernando Martínez-Freiría, Biodiversity of Deserts and Arid Regions - BIODESERTS, Phenotypic Evolution - PHENEVOL]

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