Use and interpretation of logistic regression in habitat-selection studies

Journal of Wildlife Management
By:  and 



 Logistic regression is an important tool for wildlife habitat-selection studies, but the method frequently has been misapplied due to an inadequate understanding of the logistic model, its interpretation, and the influence of sampling design. To promote better use of this method, we review its application and interpretation under 3 sampling designs: random, case-control, and use-availability. Logistic regression is appropriate for habitat use-nonuse studies employing random sampling and can be used to directly model the conditional probability of use in such cases. Logistic regression also is appropriate for studies employing case-control sampling designs, but careful attention is required to interpret results correctly. Unless bias can be estimated or probability of use is small for all habitats, results of case-control studies should be interpreted as odds ratios, rather than probability of use or relative probability of use. When data are gathered under a use-availability design, logistic regression can be used to estimate approximate odds ratios if probability of use is small, at least on average. More generally, however, logistic regression is inappropriate for modeling habitat selection in use-availability studies. In particular, using logistic regression to fit the exponential model of Manly et al. (2002:100) does not guarantee maximum-likelihood estimates, valid probabilities, or valid likelihoods. We show that the resource selection function (RSF) commonly used for the exponential model is proportional to a logistic discriminant function. Thus, it may be used to rank habitats with respect to probability of use and to identify important habitat characteristics or their surrogates, but it is not guaranteed to be proportional to probability of use. Other problems associated with the exponential model also are discussed. We describe an alternative model based on Lancaster and Imbens (1996) that offers a method for estimating conditional probability of use in use-availability studies. Although promising, this model fails to converge to a unique solution in some important situations. Further work is needed to obtain a robust method that is broadly applicable to use-availability studies.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use and interpretation of logistic regression in habitat-selection studies
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2193/0022-541X(2004)068[0774:UAIOLR]2.0.CO;2
Volume 68
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 774
Last page 789
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details