Avian Species Distribution Models

Special Issue 2016

Avian Species distribution models

Modelling avian distributions has emerged as a crucial part in ornithology, yet, it is also one of the most controversial topics discussed in this field. In recent years, a plethora of macroecological studies have used birds as model organisms. These studies have not only described biogeographical patterns but also greatly improved our understanding of underlying mechanisms that lead to the vast avian diversity. Species distribution models (SDMs) appeared as a central tool to address both, basic and applied ecological questions in a variety of different spatial and temporal contexts. For instance, SDMs have been combined with evolutionary approaches to investigate the evolution of environmental niches and biogeographic data to study range filling. Moreover, SDMs offer extraordinary opportunities for avian conservation, whether they are used alone or combined with ecological field studies.

Despite their frequent use, SDMs are in some respects still in their infancy. Some key topics have only recently been considered and practical or conceptual peculiarities of SDMs have yet to be elaborated with respect to birds. Concepts like seasonal niche dualities, or the importance of differential function- or trait related habitat use, have only recently been considered. Given birds’ mobility and often multifaceted habitat requirements, in addition to their complex demographies, it is particularly important to rethink classical conceptual  backgrounds of SDMs as well as practical aspects of model applications. By acknowledging the challenges and highlighting the opportunities, avian SDMs are poised to become even more important for both basic and applied research.


This Special Issue will:

  • Review the state of the field
  • Outline conceptual and methodological challenges and developments
  • Present key studies covering different spatial and temporal scales
  • Show new applications addressing avian peculiarities


This Special issue is coordinated by Jan O. Engler, Darius Stiels, Mattia Brambilla and Catherine H. Graham

Deadline for submissions: July 2016

Submit your SDM paper now!