A modeling workflow that balances automation and human intervention to inform invasive plant management decisions at multiple spatial scales

PLoS ONE
By: , and 

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Abstract

Predictions of habitat suitability for invasive plant species can guide risk assessments at regional and national scales and inform early detection and rapid-response strategies at local scales. We present a general approach to invasive species modeling and mapping that meets objectives at multiple scales. Our methodology is designed to balance trade-offs between developing highly customized models for few species versus fitting non-specific and generic models for numerous species. We developed a national library of environmental variables known to physiologically limit plant distributions and relied on human input based on natural history knowledge to further narrow the variable set for each species before developing habitat suitability models. To ensure efficiency, we used largely automated modeling approaches and human input only at key junctures. We explore and present uncertainty by using two alternative sources of background samples, including five statistical algorithms, and constructing model ensembles. We demonstrate the use and efficiency of the Software for Assisted Habitat Modeling [SAHM 2.1.2], a package in VisTrails, which performs the majority of the modeling analyses. Our workflow includes solicitation of expert feedback on model outputs such as spatial prediction results and variable response curves, and iterative improvement based on new data availability and directed field validation of initial model results. We highlight the utility of the models for decision-making at regional and local scales with case studies of two plant species that invade natural areas: fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) and goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria). By balancing model automation with human intervention, we can efficiently provide land managers with mapped predicted distributions for multiple invasive species to inform decisions across spatial scales.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A modeling workflow that balances automation and human intervention to inform invasive plant management decisions at multiple spatial scales
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0229253
Volume 15
Issue 3
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher PLoS
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description e0229253, 21 p.
Country United States
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