Biodiversity and Conservation

, 18:3629 | Cite as

Effect of characteristics of butterfly species on the accuracy of distribution models in an arid environment

  • Tim Newbold
  • Tom Reader
  • Samy Zalat
  • Ahmed El-Gabbas
  • Francis Gilbert
Original Paper


Species distribution models show great promise as tools for conservation ecology. However, their accuracy has been shown to vary widely among taxa. There is some evidence that this variation is partly owing to ecological differences among species, which make them more or less easy to model. Here we test the effect of five characteristics of Egyptian butterfly species on the accuracy of distribution models, the first such comparison for butterflies in an arid environment. Unlike most previous studies, we perform independent contrasts to control for species relatedness. We show that range size, both globally and locally, has a negative effect on model accuracy. The results shed light on causes of variation in distribution model accuracy among species, and hence have relevance to practitioners using species distribution models in conservation decision making.


AUC Ecological characteristics Independent contrasts Lepidoptera Maxent Species distribution models 



We thank Italian Cooperation (Debt Swap) for funding the BioMAP Project, Dr. Mustafa Fouda (Director of the Nature Conservation Sector, EEAA) for facilities and comments on the work, all the BioMAP staff (Ahmed Yakoub, Alaa Awad, Muhammed Sherif, Shama Omran, Shaimaa Esa, Yasmin Safwat, Nahla Ahmed, Esraa Sabre), Dr. Abd El Aal Attia for help during dataset preparation and preliminary analysis. Two anonymous reviewers made valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant number NER/S/A/2006/14170).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Newbold
    • 1
  • Tom Reader
    • 1
  • Samy Zalat
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ahmed El-Gabbas
    • 3
  • Francis Gilbert
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of BiologyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Suez Canal UniversityIsmailiaEgypt
  3. 3.BioMAP ProjectEgyptian Environmental Affairs AgencyMaadi, CairoEgypt

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