Stage M2 Recherche

Title : Species distribution models & species abundances

Keywords: species distribution models, demography, spatial ecology

Research project and objectives:
Species Distribution Models (SDM) are widely used to model habitat suitability and predict current or potential future species distributions. SDM are a niche modelling framework based on a statistical approach linking spatial data on the presence/absence of species to predictive environmental variables. However, the relationships between local environmental suitability and local abundance remain unclear and triangular relationship between species abundances and suitability might occur: high abundances can be achieved in localities with high environmental suitability but low abundances can be recorded in places with low or high environmental suitability. Source-sink dynamics and biotic interactions can lead to deviations from this expectation. In this context, this relationship can enhance our understanding of the ecological processes influencing species abundances along environmental gradients. Recently, Acevedo et al. (2017) showed that a positive population growth influenced the strength of this relationship.

Using a long-term monitoring of a bird population, we will study how the temporal variation in population abundances influences the relationship between species abundances and environmental suitability. The master project will be part of a larger project conducted by the Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in collaboration with Yves Hingrat (RENECO, UAE), Anne-Christine Monnet (IMBE, Aix-en-Provence), and Alexandre Robert (MNHN, Paris). The ECWP is a research and conservation project promoting the restoration of the Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata), a threatened species inhabiting North Africa. The ECWP aims to sustain wild populations via a captive breeding and reinforcement program, and releasing them in suitable natural areas (Lacroix et al. 2003).

– Outputs from niche modelling calibrated on the whole range of the species (Monnet et al. 2015a) or on the study region (Monnet et al. 2015b)
– Population monitoring: 10 years of standardized fall counts (2007-2017) in Eastern Morocco and Southern Morocco (2010-2017)

Profile and requirements. Applicants should be part of a research master in ecology. Experience with data handling and statistical analysis (R) would be appreciated.

Application and contacts:
Applicants are requested to send a CV and a cover letter (in French or in English) including the contact details of at least one referee: Alexandre Robert ([email protected]), Yves Hingrat ([email protected]) and Anne-Christine Monnet (ann[email protected]).
The successful candidate will be based at the CESCO (, MNHN, Paris).

– Acevedo P, Ferreres J, Escudero MA, et al. (2017) Population dynamics affect the capacity of species distribution models to predict species abundance on a local scale. Divers Distrib. 23:1008–1017.
– Bacon, L., Hingrat, Y, Jiguet, F., Monnet, A.-C., Sarrazin, F., Robert A. (2017) Habitat suitability and demography, a time dependent relationship. Ecology & Evolution.
– Lacroix, F., Seabury, J., Al Bowardi, M. & Renaud, J. The Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation: comprehensive strategy to secure self-sustaining wild populations of houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata undulata) in Eastern Morocco. Houbara News 5, 60–62 (2003).
– Monnet, A.-C., Hingrat Y., Jiguet, F. (2015b) The realized niche of captive-hatched Houbara Bustards translocated in Morocco meets expectations from the wild. Biological Conservation. 186: 241-250
– Monnet, A.-C., Hardouin, L.A., Robert, A., Hingrat Y., Jiguet, F. (2015a) Evidence of a link between demographic rates and species habitat suitability from post release movements in a reinforced bird population. Oikos. 124 (8): 1089-1097.
– VanDerWal, J., Shoo, L. P., Johnson, C. N., & Williams, S. E. (2009). Abundance and the environmental niche: Environmental suitability estimated from niche models predicts the upper limit of local abundance. The American Naturalist, 174, 282–291.

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