The generality of habitat suitability models: A practical test with two insect groups

Silke Hein, Birgit Binzenhöfer, Hans Joachim Poethke, Robert Biedermann, Josef Settele, Boris Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


For the design and declaration of conservation areas as well as for planning habitat management it is important to quantitatively know the habitat preferences of the focal species. To take into account the requirements of as many species as possible, it would be of great advantage if one would either (i) find one or several species whose habitat requirements cover those of a large number of other species or if one could (ii) identify a common set of habitat parameters that is important for the occurrence of many species. Ideally such common habitat parameters should be easy to measure. Only then they may be of practical value in applied conservation biology. In this study, we compared the habitat preferences of different insect species (grasshoppers, bush crickets, butterflies, moths) in the same region by applying identical methods. To identify common explanatory variables that predict the occurrence probability of these species, we first tested the transferability of the specific 'species models' to other species within the same insect group. We tested how well the incidence of one species can be predicted by the occurrence probability of another species. The 'best' models within each group were then tested for transferability between the different groups. Additionally, we tested the predictive power of the predictor variable 'habitat type' as an easy and often available measure for conservation practice. Although in the different 'species models' different key factors determine habitat suitability, some models were successfully transferred and were able to reasonably predict the distribution of other species. The habitat preferences of the burnet moth Zygaena carniolica were particularly well suited for the prediction of suitable habitats for all other species. In addition, the predictor variable 'habitat type' played a dominant role in all models. Models using this aggregated predictor variable may well predict suitable habitat for all species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-320
Number of pages11
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Burnet moth
  • Bush cricket
  • Butterfly
  • Grasshopper
  • Model transferability
  • Umbrella species


Dive into the research topics of 'The generality of habitat suitability models: A practical test with two insect groups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this