Considerations regarding species distribution models for forest insects
Species distribution models, or SDMs, have become important decision support tools by answering fundamental questions about where species, including invasive species, are likely to survive and thrive based on environmental conditions. For an inexperienced modeller or model reviewer, the terminology and technical aspects of SDMs can be overwhelming, and even well-trained modellers can struggle to understand the implications of various modelling choices. Here, I outline some key considerations with respect to SDMs, focusing on their application to forest insects. Foremost, I assert that a model should be developed and evaluated with attention to relationships between an insect and its hosts, as those relationships determine much about the places the insect may occupy. In my view, the most successful models are constructed carefully and incorporate honest assessments of their limitations, sources of error and uncertainty, and the degree of linkage between the model and the real-world circumstances it is meant to portray.