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Using species distribution models to locate animal aggregations: a case study with Hippodamia undecimnotata (Schneider) overwintering aggregation sites
- SUSSET, ELINE C., MAGRO, ALEXANDRA, HEMPTINNE, JEAN‐LOUIS
- Ecological entomology 2017 v.42 no.3 pp. 345-354
- Semiadalia undecimnotata, altitude, animals, biogeography, case studies, correlation, model validation, models, natural resources conservation, overwintering, pesticides, risk, stakeholders, vegetation, Eastern European region, France
- 1. The protection of animals' aggregation sites is increasingly seen as a key conservation strategy. However, to efficiently protect aggregation sites, they need to be accurately located. Species distribution models (SDMs) are an important tool in biological conservation to predict spatial distribution of species and they are used here to predict the distribution of the aggregation sites of a ladybird (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) species. 2. Hippodamia undecimnotata forms spectacular overwintering aggregations at the same locations every year across southern and eastern Europe. In this study, an SDM was developed and its performance tested for H. undecimnotata aggregations in southwest France. Moreover, the study looked at how environmental variables correlate with ladybirds' abundance in the aggregation sites. 3. The occurrence of aggregations was best described by one model including isolated prominent object, pesticide risk, altitude and vegetation coverage. Furthermore, ladybird abundance at the aggregation sites is positively correlated with altitude. The SDM occurrence model performance was found to be high (area under the curve = 0.92 and true skill statistic = 0.78). 4. It is suggested that H. undecimnotata may be an umbrella species, because some aggregation sites were also used by other ladybird species. Therefore, the protection of the aggregation sites of this species may benefit several other species. 5. This study provides nature conservation stakeholders with a tool to locate overwintering aggregations, a first step towards the protection of these sites.