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Card-index course

Predictive Models of Species' Distribution

Modèles de distribution d'espèces et de la biodiversité

Responsible Faculty: School of Biology (FBM-BIO)

Teacher(s): Antoine Guisan

Validity: 2017 -> 2017

No timetable defined.

Course (optional)

Spring semester
14 hours per semester

Teaching language(s): English
Public: No
Credits: 3.00


Species distribution models (SDMs) are increasingly important in ecology and conservation biology. This course proposes an introduction to these models and related concepts and methods. Overview of the main steps of model building. Advantages and limitations. Applications to various domains (climate change, invasions, rare species, ...).


Chap. 1. Introduction to species' niche & distributions, and related models. Theory and principles behind these models. Competition and disperal limitations. Types of response variables, main predictive modelling approaches, field sampling design, from predicting species distributions to predicting communities.
Chap. 2. Model calibration. Presence-only versus presence-absence data, statistical theory and methods for presence-only data, regressions and classifications for presence-absence, ensemble modelling and forecasting.
Chap. 3. Model evaluation. Internal versus external evaluation. Data and metrics for evaluation. Crossvalidation, jackknife, bootstrap, uncertainties.
Chap. 4. Assumptions behind these models. Pseudo-equilibrium, niche conservatism, niche completeness, realized niche, and other postulates.


Organised by the School of Biology. Continuous crontrol. 1/2 practicals report, 1/2 paper presentation.


Guisan, A. & Zimmermann, N.E. (2000). Predictive habitat distribution models in ecology. Ecological Modelling 135(2-3): 147-186.
Guisan A, Thuiller W (2005) Predicting species distribution: offering more than simple habitat models. Ecology Letters, 8, 993-1009.
Guisan et al. (2013) Predicting species distributions for conservation decisions. Ecology Letters 16: 1424-1435.

Programme requirements

If possible, course 'Spatial Analyses & GIS' (ANSPAT) in 1st semester of the Master (not strictly required).

Additional information


Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
Unicentre  -  CH-1015 Lausanne  -  Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 11 11  -  Fax  +41 21 692 26 15