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Environments 2018, 5(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5030036

Evaluating Presence Data versus Expert Opinions to Assess Occurrence, Habitat Preferences and Landscape Permeability: A Case Study of Butterflies

1
Department of Conservation Biology, UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2
Department of Biology, Lund University, Sölvegaten 37, 22362 Lund, Sweden
3
iDiv—German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
4
Department of Community Ecology, UFZ—Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 February 2018 / Revised: 22 February 2018 / Accepted: 26 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
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Abstract

We explored how presence data and expert opinions performed with respect to identifying the ecological preferences and the spatial needs of six butterfly species in the Federal State of Saxony, Germany. We used presence records and a land-cover map. In parallel we used expert responses to evaluate the 40 land-cover types occurring in the map, in terms of both suitability and permeability for the six species. Presence data were translated into preferences through Ivlev’s electivity indices (IEI). Visual analysis of preference maps based on IEI showed a distinct pattern of suitable versus less suitable areas. Similarly, spatial analyses found that presence-points were closer to suitability areas based on IEI than those that were based on expert data. However, in case of mismatches between expert and presence-based evaluations, independent experts identified the expert evaluation as better and considered IEI outcomes as wrong. We found a medium to high correlation between land-cover class suitability and permeability based on expert opinions for all species. This indicates that expert evaluation of permeability is affiliated with habitat suitability. Integration of species-presence data and expert-knowledge about species could enhance our capabilities to understand and potentially map suitability while gathering information about suitability and permeability separately can improve species conservation planning. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity conservation; habitat suitability; landscape permeability; empirical data; expert opinion; Ivlev’s electivity indices (IEI) biodiversity conservation; habitat suitability; landscape permeability; empirical data; expert opinion; Ivlev’s electivity indices (IEI)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Arfan, M.; Pe’er, G.; Bauch, B.; Settele, J.; Henle, K.; Klenke, R. Evaluating Presence Data versus Expert Opinions to Assess Occurrence, Habitat Preferences and Landscape Permeability: A Case Study of Butterflies. Environments 2018, 5, 36.

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