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Models of presence-absence estimate abundance as well as (or even better than) models of abundance: the case of the butterfly Parnassius apollo Public Deposited

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This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by Springer and can be found at:  http://link.springer.com/journal/10980.

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  • Models relating species distribution records to environmental variables are increasingly applied to biodiversity conservation. Such techniques could be valuable to predict the distribution, abundance or habitat requirements of species that are rare or otherwise difficult to survey. However, despite widely-documented positive intraspecific relationships between occupancy and abundance, few studies have demonstrated convincing associations between models of habitat suitability based on species occurrence, and observed measures of habitat quality such as abundance. Here we compared models based on field-derived abundance and distribution (presence-absence) data for a rare mountain butterfly in 2006-08. Both model types selected consistent effects of environmental variables, which corresponded to known ecological associations of the species, suggesting that abundance and distribution may be a function of similar factors. However, the models based on occurrence data identified stronger effects of a smaller number of environmental variables, indicating less uncertainty in the factors controlling distribution. Furthermore, cross-validation of the models using observed abundance data from different years, or averaged across years, suggested a marginally stronger ability of models based on occurrence data to predict observed abundance. The results suggest that, for some species, distribution models could be efficient tools for estimating habitat quality in conservation planning or management, when information on abundance or habitat requirements is costly or impractical to obtain.
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  • Gutierrez, D., Harcourt, J., Diez, S. B., Gutierrez Illan, J., & Wilson, R. J. (2013). Models of presence-absence estimate abundance as well as (or even better than) models of abundance: The case of the butterfly parnassius apollo. Landscape Ecology, 28(3), 401-413. doi:10.1007/s10980-013-9847-3
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  • The research was funded by Universidad Rey Juan Carlos/Comunidad de Madrid (URJC-CM-2006-CET-0592), the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science with an F.P.U. scholarship and research projects (REN2002-12853- E/GLO, CGL2005-06820/BOS and CGL2008-04950/BOS), the British Ecological Society and the Royal Society. Access and research permits were provided by Comunidad de Madrid, Parque Natural de Peñalara, Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares, Parque Regional del Curso Medio del Río Guadarrama, Patrimonio Nacional and Ayuntamiento de Cercedilla.
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