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How to run a GAM model in R

Practical: Modelling species responses to climate change in R

This practical is designed to ensure you understand the process of modelling species distributions, and how this can be used to approximate the future changes in species distributions for conservation purposes. We will model distributions using an application of Generalised Additive Modelling (GAM) developed by Wilfried Thuiller of SANBI for the R statistical package. This method of modelling is discussed in more depth in the presentation by Barend Erasmus (Chapter 6).

In order to carry out this practical, you will need to have a copy of Arcview 3.2 installed, and will also need to install the R statistical package in the "Program Files" folder on the C drive of your computer.

The data used for this practical includes:

  • Environmental data from the Hadley centre GCM:A2 model for the year 2050
  • Environmental data covering the same variables for the year 2000.
  • Mammal distribution data from the African Mammal Databank
  • A coverage map of the countries of central and southern Africa

This practical is divided into three parts:

  1. Data preparation
  2. Modelling current distributions
  3. Modelling future climate response