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A family of process-based models to simulate landscape use by multiple taxa

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Robinson, RA 
Julian, A 
Boughey, K 
Langham, S 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:sec jats:titleContext</jats:title> jats:pLand-use change is a key driver of biodiversity loss. Models that accurately predict how biodiversity might be affected by land-use changes are urgently needed, to help avoid further negative impacts and inform landscape-scale restoration projects. To be effective, such models must balance model realism with computational tractability and must represent the different habitat and connectivity requirements of multiple species.</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleObjectives</jats:title> jats:pWe explored the extent to which process-based modelling might fulfil this role, examining feasibility for different taxa and potential for informing real-world decision-making.</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleMethods</jats:title> jats:pWe developed a family of process-based models (*4pop) that simulate landscape use by birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians, derived from the well-established poll4pop model (designed to simulate bee populations). Given landcover data, the models predict spatially-explicit relative abundance by simulating optimal home-range foraging, reproduction, dispersal of offspring and mortality. The models were co-developed by researchers, conservation NGOs and volunteer surveyors, parameterised using literature data and expert opinion, and validated against observational datasets collected across Great Britain.</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleResults</jats:title> jats:pThe models were able to simulate habitat specialists, generalists, and species requiring access to multiple habitats for different types of resources (e.g. breeding vs foraging). We identified model refinements required for some taxa and considerations for modelling further species/groups.</jats:p> </jats:sec>jats:sec jats:titleConclusions</jats:title> jats:pWe suggest process-based models that integrate multiple forms of knowledge can assist biodiversity-inclusive decision-making by predicting habitat use throughout the year, expanding the range of species that can be modelled, and enabling decision-makers to better account for landscape context and habitat configuration effects on population persistence.</jats:p> </jats:sec>


Acknowledgements: We would like to thank all the volunteer surveyors who contributed data to the BTO/RSPB/JNCC Breeding Bird Survey and those who contributed data to the Field Survey within the BCT’s National Bat Monitoring Programme, without whom validation of the bird and bat models would not have been possible. We would also like to thank all the volunteer surveyors of Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group, who kindly contributed their common lizard sightings and enabled validation of the reptile model. Finally, we would like to thank the regional ARGs and all the Toad Patrol volunteers, supported by Froglife, who took the time to fill in the toad habitat use questionnaire, so enabling validation of the amphibian model. EG acknowledges funding from a Research Programme Fellowship provided by the Natural Environment Research Council through UK Research and Innovation’s Landscape Decisions Programme (NE/V007831/1).


4101 Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, 4102 Ecological Applications, 31 Biological Sciences, 3103 Ecology, 41 Environmental Sciences, 15 Life on Land

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Landscape Ecology

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/V007831/1)