[MARMAM] New publication: A standard protocol for reporting species distribution models

Phil Bouchet pjbouchet at gmail.com
Thu Jun 4 02:52:27 PDT 2020

Dear MARMAMers,


My colleagues and are delighted to share our new open access publication in Ecography. 


The paper presents a standard protocol (called ‘ODMAP’) for building and reporting on species distribution models (SDMs), with direct relevance to marine mammal research.


ODMAP was designed as a structured checklist that details the key steps involved in the development and analysis of modern SDMs. With it, we hope to increase the transparency and reproducibility of SDM studies, facilitate peer-review and expert evaluation of model quality, support meta‐analyses, and encourage model users to consider various aspects of the modelling workflow that may sometimes be overlooked.


Zurell D, Franklin J, König C, Bouchet PJ, Serra-Diaz JM, Dormann CF, Elith J, Fandos Guzman G, Feng X, Guillera-Arroita G, Guisan A, Leitão PJ, Lahoz-Monfort JJ, Park DS, Peterson AT, Raacciuolo G, Schmatz DR, Schröder B, Thuiller W, Yates KL, Zimmermann NE, Merow C (2020). A standard protocol for reporting species distribution models. Ecography (online early).






Species distribution models (SDMs) constitute the most common class of models across ecology, evolution and conservation. The advent of ready‐to‐use software packages and increasing availability of digital geoinformation have considerably assisted the application of SDMs in the past decade, greatly enabling their broader use for informing conservation and management, and for quantifying impacts from global change. However, models must be fit for purpose, with all important aspects of their development and applications properly considered. Despite the widespread use of SDMs, standardisation and documentation of modelling protocols remain limited, which makes it hard to assess whether development steps are appropriate for end use. To address these issues, we propose a standard protocol for reporting SDMs, with an emphasis on describing how a study's objective is achieved through a series of modeling decisions. We call this the ODMAP (Overview, Data, Model, Assessment and Prediction) protocol, as its components reflect the main steps involved in building SDMs and other empirically‐based biodiversity models. The ODMAP protocol serves two main purposes. First, it provides a checklist for authors, detailing key steps for model building and analyses, and thus represents a quick guide and generic workflow for modern SDMs. Second, it introduces a structured format for documenting and communicating the models, ensuring transparency and reproducibility, facilitating peer review and expert evaluation of model quality, as well as meta‐analyses. We detail all elements of ODMAP, and explain how it can be used for different model objectives and applications, and how it complements efforts to store associated metadata and define modelling standards. We illustrate its utility by revisiting nine previously published case studies, and provide an interactive web‐based application to facilitate its use. We plan to advance ODMAP by encouraging its further refinement and adoption by the scientific community.


The paper is accompanied by a Shiny app available here at https://odmap.wsl.ch/


Best wishes,




Dr. Phil Bouchet | Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Centre for Research into Ecological & Environmental Modelling (CREEM)

The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens
University of St Andrews, St Andrews Fife
KY16 9LZ, Scotland (UK)

E pjbouchet at gmail.com | pb282 at st-andrews.ac.uk






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