MEPS 442:71-86 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09391

Species distribution modelling of marine benthos: a North Sea case study

Henning Reiss1,3,*, Sarah Cunze2, Konstantin König2,4, Hermann Neumann1,2, Ingrid Kröncke1

1Senckenberg Institute, Department for Marine Research, Südstrand 40, 26382 Wilhelmshaven, Germany
2Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Frankfurt (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
3University of Nordland, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Postbox 1490, 8049 Bodø, Norway
4World Agroforestry Center − ICRAF Travessa Dr. Eneas Pinheiro s/n Embrapa Amazonia Oriental, 66095-100 Belem (PA), Brazil

ABSTRACT: Species distribution models (SDMs) were applied to predict the distribution of benthic species in the North Sea. An understanding of species distribution patterns is essential to gain insight into ecological processes in marine ecosystems and to guide ecosystem management strategies. Therefore, we compared 9 different SDM methods, including GLM, GBM, FDA, SVM, RF, MAXENT, BIOCLIM, GARP and MARS, by using 10 environmental variables to model the distribution of 20 marine benthic species. Most of the models showed good or very good performance in terms of predictive power and accuracy, with highest mean area under the curve (AUC) values of 0.845 and 0.840, obtained for the MAXENT and GBM models, respectively. The poorest performance was shown by the BIOCLIM model, which had a mean AUC of 0.708. Nevertheless, the mapped distribution patterns varied remarkably depending on the model used, with up to 32.5% differences in predictions between models. For species with a narrow distribution range, the models showed a better performance based on the AUC than for species with a broad distribution range, which can most likely be attributed to the restricted spatial scale and the model evaluation procedure. Of the environmental variables, bottom water temperature and depth had the greatest effect on the distribution of 14 benthic species, based on MAXENT results. We examine the potential utility of this strategy for predicting future distribution of benthic species in response to climate change.


KEY WORDS: Habitat suitability modelling · Niche modelling · Marine ecosystems · Macrofauna · Benthic communities · North Sea


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Cite this article as: Reiss H, Cunze S, König K, Neumann H, Kröncke I (2011) Species distribution modelling of marine benthos: a North Sea case study. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 442:71-86. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09391

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