Impacts of land cover data selection and trait parameterisation on dynamic modelling of species' range expansion

Risto K Heikkinen, Greta Bocedi, Mikko Kuussaari, Janne Heliölä, Niko Leikola, Juha Pöyry, Justin M J Travis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Dynamic models for range expansion provide a promising tool for assessing species' capacity to respond to climate change by shifting their ranges to new areas. However, these models include a number of uncertainties which may affect how successfully they can be applied to climate change oriented conservation planning. We used RangeShifter, a novel dynamic and individual-based modelling platform, to study two potential sources of such uncertainties: the selection of land cover data and the parameterization of key life-history traits. As an example, we modelled the range expansion dynamics of two butterfly species, one habitat specialist (Maniola jurtina) and one generalist (Issoria lathonia). Our results show that projections of total population size, number of occupied grid cells and the mean maximal latitudinal range shift were all clearly dependent on the choice made between using CORINE land cover data vs. using more detailed grassland data from three alternative national databases. Range expansion was also sensitive to the parameterization of the four considered life-history traits (magnitude and probability of long-distance dispersal events, population growth rate and carrying capacity), with carrying capacity and magnitude of long-distance dispersal showing the strongest effect. Our results highlight the sensitivity of dynamic species population models to the selection of existing land cover data and to uncertainty in the model parameters and indicate that these need to be carefully evaluated before the models are applied to conservation planning.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108436
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Impacts of land cover data selection and trait parameterisation on dynamic modelling of species' range expansion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this