Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA)

Species distribution modeling and remote sensing

Coordinators: Davnah Payne (GMBA), Cornelia Krug, Ariane de Bremont
Members: E. Ellis, A. Guisan, P. Leadley, C. Randin, M. Schaepman, P. Verburg, N. Yoccoz
Period: 2016 - 2018
Status: ongoing

Understanding past, present, and future patterns of biodiversity, predicting potential changes in these patterns in response to drivers of global changes, and developing sustainable management and conservation strategies requires detailed information and a precise understanding of past and present species distribution. Species occurrence is commonly obtained from field data (e.g., collections, surveys, checklists, expert range maps) and increasingly provided by remote sensing. Species distribution models (SDMs) in turn relate occurrence data to spatial variables (e.g., climate, topography, land use).

Incorporating spatial information in SDMs raises a number of methodological issues associated with the type of spatial variable (e.g., climate, topography, land use), their quality and associated error and uncertainties, their typical process length, and their context of use (e.g., assimilation versus calibration, use of informative priors); with the quality and spatio-temporal resolution of the species data; and with the context in which SDMs are applied. These challenges remain to be fully explored.

This working group is a joint activity of the Future Earth Global Research Projects GMBA, BioDISCOVERY, and Global Land Program supported by funding from the European Space Agency and Future Earth.


  • Scheduled workshop winter 2018