In this research, species distribution modeling is used as a tool to understand the environmental determinants that control the distribution of species and to obtain spatial patterns on the species’ distribution. Current projects include evaluating the usefulness of newly available vegetation remote sensing data (e.g., from NASA’s Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer [MODIS]) in species distributional modeling, understanding the spatial distribution of tree diversity in the Amazon basin, predicting present-day, future, and past distribution of biomes and vertebrates in the diverse Tropical Andes, predicting invasions of savanna reptiles into fragmented rainforests in Cameroon, and modeling the geographic distribution of avian malaria blood parasites throughout African rainforests. In species distributional modeling, also called “bioclimatic envelope modeling,” empirical relationships between observed species distributions and environmental variables are established and, thereafter, projected onto geographic space.
A relatively new research venue involves explaining and predicting genetic and morphological diversity over a landscape using environmental correlates. Species distribution modeling is used as a first step, and statistical relationships between phylogeographic and environmental patterns are determined and projected over the regions where the species of interest is predicted to reside. The results from this project will not only increase our fundamental understanding of evolutionary processes in a spatial context but will also enable decision makers to use this information in developing conservation strategies.
Many of these projects are carried out with NASA-funded grants to the Center for Tropical Research and in collaboration with scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Some examples of these projects are given below.
Published Work | 2015 | Royal Society Open Science 2
Spatial and temporal patterns of frugivorous hornbill movements in Central Africa and their implications for rain forest conservation
Published Work | 2014 | Biotropica 46(6), 763–770
Spatial conservation planning framework for assessing conservation opportunities in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil
Published Work | 2014 | Applied Geography 53, 369–376
Identifying areas with a high risk of human infection with the avian influenza (H7N9) virus in East Asia
Published Work | 2014 | Journal of Infection 69(2), 174–181
Pathogen-host associations and predicted range shifts of human Monkeypox in response to climate change in Central Africa
Published Work | 2013 | PLoS ONE 8(7)
Intraspecific morphological and genetic variation of common species predicts ranges of threatened ones
Published Work | 2013 | Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology 280(1763)
Published Work | 2013 | Evolutionary Applications 6(6), 865–874
Published Work | 2013 | Emerging Infectious Diseases 19(4), 581–588
A preliminary assessment of the effectiveness of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor for protecting potential Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii Gill, 1865) habitat in Southern Mexico
Published Work | 2013 | Integrative Zoology 8(1), 35–47
Published Work | 2011 | Molecular Ecology 20(18), 4564–4576
Patterns of divergence in the olive sunbird Cyanomitra olivacea (Aves: Nectariniidae) across the African rainforest–savanna ecotone
Published Work | 2011 | Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 103(4), 821–835
Published Work | 2011 | Evolutionary Applications 4(2), 397–413
Published Work | 2010 | Molecular Ecology 19(17), 3532–3548
Modeling environmentally associated morphological and genetic variation in a rainforest bird, and its application to conservation prioritization
Published Work | 2010 | Evolutionary Applications 3(1), 1–16
Published Work | 2008 | Progress in Physical Geography 32, 203–221
Published Work | 2008
Published Work | 2006 | Nature 443, 444–447
Published Work | 2003 | Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(6), 306–314