We introduce a methodology to infer zones of high potential for the habitat of a species, useful for management of biodiversity, conservation, biogeography, ecology, or sustainable use. Inference is based on a set of sites where the presence of the species has been reported. Each site is associated with covariate values, measured on discrete scales. We compute the predictive probability that the species is present at each node of a regular grid. Possible spatial bias for sites of presence is accounted for. Since the resulting posterior distribution does not have a closed form, a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm is implemented. However, we also describe an approximation to the posterior distribution, which avoids MCMC. Relevant features of the approach are that specific notions of data acquisition such as sampling intensity and detectability are accounted for, and that available a priori information regarding areas of distribution of the species is incorporated in a clear-cut way. These concepts, arising in the presence-only context, are not addressed in alternative methods. We also consider an uncertainty map, which measures the variability for the predictive probability at each node on the grid. A simulation study is carried out to test and compare our approach with other standard methods. Two case studies are also presented.
biodiversity ecology mixture model predictive probability map prior elicitation