Species versus within-species niches: a multi-modelling approach to assess range size of a spring-dwelling amphibian

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 12;11(1):597. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-79783-0.


Species Distribution Models (SDMs) can be used to estimate potential geographic ranges and derive indices to assess species conservation status. However, habitat-specialist species require fine-scale range estimates that reflect resource dependency. Furthermore, local adaptation of intraspecific lineages to distinct environmental conditions across ranges have frequently been neglected in SDMs. Here, we propose a multi-stage SDM approach to estimate the distributional range and potential area of occupancy (pAOO) of Neurergus kaiseri, a spring-dwelling amphibian with two climatically-divergent evolutionary lineages. We integrate both broad-scale climatic variables and fine-resolution environmental data to predict the species distribution while examining the performance of lineage-level versus species-level modelling on the estimated pAOO. Predictions of habitat suitability at the landscape scale differed considerably between evolutionary level models. At the landscape scale, spatial predictions derived from lineage-level models showed low overlap and recognised a larger amount of suitable habitats than species-level model. The variable dependency of lineages was different at the landscape scale, but similar at the local scale. Our results highlight the importance of considering fine-scale resolution approaches, as well as intraspecific genetic structure of taxa to estimate pAOO. The flexible procedure presented here can be used as a guideline for estimating pAOO of other similar species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphibians / classification*
  • Amphibians / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Seasons*
  • Species Specificity