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Maxent Modeling in the Great Lakes Region

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Project Description

Maxent is a species suitability model that uses maximum entropy to find the most likely area a species resides in in relation to different environmental variables. The output is a raster map with habitat suitability values ranging from 0 to 1 at each grid point.  Suitability values can then be used in individual species models to study species' geographic distribution under varying parameters.  Climate data are one type of environment variable that Maxent can use as input (although not required). This project aims to develop a data set of climate projections (temperature and precipitation) to use as input to Maxent in order to determine future species suitability values.

Data Set Specifics

Data Source: CMIP5 models

Variables: temperature (degrees F) and precipitation (cm)

Temporal frequency: decadal monthly climatologies for the decades 2020-2090 (i.e., mean precipitation total for January in the period 2020-2029) 

A base period file is also provided for comparison and contains monthly climatologies (period means) for the years 1971-2000.

Geography: 11 to 80N; -168.7 to -21.2W (most of North America)

Data Format: currently NetCDF but our collaborators are working on formatting the data to ascii, which is what Maxent uses.

Data Access: NetCDF data 

additional formats will be available at a later date

Initial Results

Based on the projections using the GFDL CM3 model, the output from Maxent representing suitability values for Cakile edentula, a species of the flowering Cakile plant, are as follows:

Future Work

  • include additional emission scenarios and models in the data suite
  • package the data in formats that are easy to use in Maxent (ascii)
  • develop documentation on how to use the climate data in Maxent