Forecasting population trend from the scaling pattern of occupancy
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Forecasting the temporal trend of a focal species, its range expansion or retraction, provides crucial information regarding population viability. To this end, we require the accumulation of temporal records which is evidently time consuming. Progress in spatial data capturing has enabled rapid and accurate assessment of species distribution across large scales. Therefore, it would be appealing to infer the temporal trends of populations from the spatial structure of their distributions. Based on a combination of models from the fields of range dynamics, occupancy scaling and spatial autocorrelation, here I present a model for forecasting the population trend solely from its spatial distribution. Numerical tests using cellular automata confirm a positive correlation, as inferred from the model, between the temporal change in species range sizes and the exponent of the power-law scaling pattern of occupancy. The model is thus recommended for rapid estimation of species range dynamics from a single snapshot of its current distribution. Further applications in biodiversity conservation could provide a swift risk assessment, especially, for endangered and invasive species.
- RESEARCH: Hui C