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Integrating food webs in species distribution models improves ecological niche estimation and predictions
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  • Giovanni Poggiato,
  • Jérémy Andréoletti,
  • Laura Shirley,
  • Wilfried Thuiller
Giovanni Poggiato
Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Jérémy Andréoletti
Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine
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Laura Shirley
McGill University
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Wilfried Thuiller
Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine
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Biotic interactions drive multitrophic species community assembly. Yet, explicitly incorporating this process in species distribution models (SDMs) is particularly challenging, even when biotic interactions are known. Here, we propose a framework that combines knowledge of trophic interactions with Bayesian structural equation models to model each species as a function of its prey or predators and environmental conditions. We tested and validated our framework on realistic simulated communities spanning different theoretical models and ecological setups. We showed that our framework improves the inference of both species’ potential and realized niches compared to single SDMs (mean performances increased by 8% and 6% respectively), especially for species with strong biotic control, thus increasing model predictive performance. Our framework can easily integrate various SDM extensions (e.g., occupancy models) and algorithms, and stands out as a novel solution for modeling multitrophic community distributions when trophic interactions are known or assumed.
10 Sep 2023Submitted to Ecology Letters
11 Sep 2023Assigned to Editor
11 Sep 2023Submission Checks Completed
11 Sep 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 Sep 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
17 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major