Integrating species distribution modelling into decision-making to inform conservation actions
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Species distribution models (SDMs) have been widely tagged as valuable tools in a variety of conservation assessments to address pressing conservation problems. However, these solutions could be hampered by difficulties to overcome the knowledge-action boundary between conservation and modelling practice. These difficulties have been well typified in the ecological modelling sphere, but a specific conceptual framework on how to bridge this gap is still lacking. This work reports successful examples on how to use SDMs to identify the most favourable habitats for implementing conservation management actions. We use these examples to discuss about the three main topics that deserve special attention to help enhance information flow between practitioners and modellers: the decision context, the modelling framework and the spatial products. Finally, we suggest some practical solutions to improve applications of effective conservation action on the ground. We emphasize the importance of matching modelling goals and decision targets by a close collaboration of modellers with decision makers and species experts. Moreover, we highlight the key role of clear and useful spatial products to provide relevant and timely feedback to increase understanding and promote utilisation by conservation practitioners, and to inform and involve targeted audiences.