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Historical species distribution model for the Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus) in Illinois

Stewart, Tyler M.

Dreslik, Michael J.

Illinois Natural History Survey

Champaign, Illinois USA

Crawford, John A,

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

East Alton, Illinois USA

Predictions from species distribution models allow researchers to designate critical habitats for conservation and identify suitable habitats on the landscape where new populations may be discovered. Species distribution models are also valuable tools for modeling the potential distribution of imperiled species that have few extant populations or for elusive species difficult to detect. The Eastern Massasauga is an endangered species in Illinois that has undergone substantial population declines due to habitat loss and alteration. We developed a species distribution model for the Eastern Massasauga in Illinois using an ensemble approach within the R package "BIOMOD2" to average the predictions from several modeling algorithms. Using a combination of climatic and landscape predictors, we predicted the relative importance of environmental variables for Eastern Massasauga distributions in Illinois.