Discussion Questions


  • How (generally) do species distribution models work?
  • What is the distinction between environmental & geographic space?
  • What is the distinction between using SDMs for explanation vs. interpolation vs. extrapolation


  • How do we select predictors for SDMs (or other ecological models)?
  • What should we do if we don’t have measurements of our preferred variables?

Modeling approaches

  • What are some of the major categories of modeling approaches for SDMs and what are their characteristics?
  • How do differences in these approaches relate to their use of explanation vs. prediction?
  • How are presence only data dealt with when building models?


  • Why do you think SDMs are so popular in attempts to forecast ecological change?
  • What are the challenges for making SDM based forecasts?
  • How might we determine how well these forecasts perform?

Key Processes

  • Should SDMs model the influence of other species and do they currently do this?
  • What about other key biological processes like density dependence and dispersal?


  • How is uncertainty addressed in SDMs and are there areas for improvement?


  • What should be the next big steps in species distribution modeling?