Macroecology for QGIS, the new QSDM plugin
This is just a quick posting informing all the QGIS interested readers of this blog that I am about to release a new QGIS plugin. It’s name is QSDM (QGIS Species Distribution Modelling) and similar as with LecoS it is particular suited for the practicing ecologists out there. This time i had no plan and interest of coding a graphical interface and thus the whole plugin can only be executed from within the Processing Toolbox (QGIS version > 2.0 ). In my opinion this will be the future of most advanced QGIS plugins anyway.
So what is the idea? Basically QSDM is a plugin taking statistical models for species distribution modeling to QGIS. For now only the famous Maxent is enabled and working, but the ambitious plan is to enable other modeling techniques such as RandomForests and LogisticRegression as well if the user has the necessary libraries enabled.
You might ask what is the advantage of running Maxent from within QGIS? First, you can immediately see the output so it is nice for visual exploration. Second, the QSDM plugin helps you with the formating of your layers and occurrence files. For instance all input raster layers are automatically unified to a common resolution and exported as ESRI .asc files. You simply need to load in your layers and let the tool do the rest. For those of you who want more control (and I really insist that you want to), I also enabled functions to generate a custom parameter file for Maxent and enabled an option to start the Maxent GUI in a new process.
–> I recognize that the easiness of this tool might tempt more people to execute tools without really understanding what they do and how they work. Please be sure what you do and always (!!!) validate the outputs of the tools you use (this includes QSDM). For understanding Maxent parameters I highly recommend reading the attached literature list and this publication!
Other things i implemented in the initial release of QSDM
- Create Species Richness grid
- Creates a new raster containing Species Richness or Endemism of input occurence layer
- Calculate Niche Overlap Statistics
- Can calculate Schoener’s D or Warren’s I based on Hellinger distances for all input layers.
- Range Shift
- Shows the difference between two input prediction layers. For instance for current and likely future conditions.
- Data Transformations
- Makes quick transformations of input raster layers
More is planned, but this depends entirely on my inclination to do so, the time I have available and if it can be useful for my own research as well.
Please remember that the plugin is still experimental. So please don’t be angry if it doesn’t work for you. testing was conducted on QGIS 2.2 stable on my Debian Linux machine and it should hopefully work for Windows as well. But similar as with LecoS i have no opportunity to test the plugin on Mac OS based systems and I also don’t really intend to :-p. Sorry Apple.
- Steven J. Phillips, Robert P. Anderson and Robert E. Schapire, (2006) “Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions” Ecological Modelling, Vol 190/3-4 pp 231-259
- Steven J. Phillips and Miroslav Dudik, (2008) “Modeling of species distributions with Maxent: new extensions and a comprehensive evaluation.” Ecography, Vol 31, pp 161-175
- Jane Elith et al. (2011) “A statistical explanation of MaxEnt for ecologists” Diversity and Distributions, 17, 43–57 DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2010.00725.x