Publications (2)8.6 Total impact
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Species distribution models (SDMs) were built with US Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) publicly available plot coordinates, which are altered for plot security purposes, and compared with SDMs built with true plot coordinates. Six species endemic to the western US, including four junipers (Juniperus deppeana var. deppeana, J. monosperma, J. occidentalis, J. osteosperma) and two piñons (Pinus edulis, P. monophylla), were analyzed. The presence–absence models based on current climatic variables were generated over a series of species-specific modeling extents using Random Forests and applied to forecast climatic conditions. The distributions of predictor variables sampled with public coordinates were compared to those sampled with true coordinates using t tests with a Bonferroni adjustment for multiple comparisons. Public- and true-based models were compared using metrics of classification accuracy. The modeled current and forecast distributions were compared in terms of their overall areal agreement and their geographic mean centroids. Comparison of the underlying distributions of predictor variables sampled with true versus public coordinates did not indicate a significant difference for any species at any extent. Both the public- and true-based models had comparable classification accuracies across extent for each species, with the exception of one species, J. occidentalis. True-based models produced geographic distributions with smaller areas under current and future scenarios. The greatest areal difference occurred in the species with the lowest modeled accuracies (J. occidentalis), and had a forecast distribution which diverged severely. The other species had forecast distributions with similar magnitudes of modeled distribution shifts.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Classification procedures are some of the most widely used statistical methods in ecology. Random forests (RF) is a new and powerful statistical classifier that is well established in other disciplines but is relatively unknown in ecology. Advantages of RF compared to other statistical classifiers include (1) very high classification accuracy; (2) a novel method of determining variable importance; (3) ability to model complex interactions among predictor variables; (4) flexibility to perform several types of statistical data analysis, including regression, classification, survival analysis, and unsupervised learning; and (5) an algorithm for imputing missing values. We compared the accuracies of RF and four other commonly used statistical classifiers using data on invasive plant species presence in Lava Beds National Monument, California, USA, rare lichen species presence in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and nest sites for cavity nesting birds in the Uinta Mountains, Utah, USA. We observed high classification accuracy in all applications as measured by cross-validation and, in the case of the lichen data, by independent test data, when comparing RF to other common classification methods. We also observed that the variables that RF identified as most important for classifying invasive plant species coincided with expectations based on the literature.
Utah State University
Logan, Ohio, United States
- Department of Wildland Resources