Ecological niche modeling as a tool for predicting species distribution and evaluating the status of endangered and threatened species
Master research projects are available within a larger inter-disciplinary project linking ecology, biodiversity informatics, modeling and entomology. We are funded by the Norwegian Research Council and use terrestrial insects as a model group. The main objective is to develop and test a novel and objective approach to evaluate endangered status of the Norwegian Red List insect species using species occurrence data.
An example of the model (Fig. 1) produced by PhD student Bente Støa. The model predicts distribution of Apollo Butterfly (Fig. 2) in Norway.
Brief description of the project.We use species occurrence data extracted from museum collections, databases, and obtained in our field work to build models of species ecological niches. The niches are then projected onto terrain to make predictions about species geographical distribution. Predictions can be tested in different ways, for example by validation in the field. This powerful approach is used to detect changes caused by global warming, habitat destruction and fragmentation. While using cutting edge scientific analyses, the project will answer a practical demand for information on conservation status of endangered species.
What you can learn and practice includes the following:
- Use of Geographical Information System (GIS)
- Model ecological niches
- Make and test predictions of species distributions
- Develop species conservation programs
- Use databases
- Sample insects in the field
- Identify insects
- Use research collection
The fields where you can apply your newly acquired experience:
- Biodiversity informatics
- Ecology and biogeography
- Climate change biology
- Conservation and wildlife management
- Evolutionary biology
You will have your own research task within the main project, while working together with a group of other researchers and a PhD student. The results of your work will be publishable in top scientific journals.