A Statistical Comparison between Less and Common Applied Models to Estimate Geographical Distribution of Endangered Species (Felis margarita) in Central Iran
Species distribution in space is important in habitat conservation and biodiversity protection, so gaining knowledge about species range would be worthwhile to rescue endangered species and plan conservation policy. This study evaluates and compares the performance of an array of Species Distribution Models (SDMs), namely RF, SVM, MaxEnt, GLMNET, and MARS, in predicting rare sand cat distribution across a large unprotected sand dune area in central Iran. Due to absence of reliable data and difficulties in recording the species itself, the SDMs were challenged by limited data including 55 absence (background) and 40 presence points as well as nine climatic and geological parameters that influence on species distribution, including humidity, maximum, minimum and mean temperature, precipitation, amount of sunshine, ground water level, aspect, and DEM. Moreover, each model was replicated 20 times and the statistics including TSS, AUC, COR and Deviance were computed. Then, based on computed statistics, the model performances were evaluated by TUKEY and ANOVA. Finally, ensemble map was obtained by weighted approach using AUC. The results of this study showed that complex machine learning methods, like SVM, RF, and MaxEnt are more outperformed to predict the distribution of rare species.