Integrating anthropogenic factors into regional‐scale species distribution models—A novel application in the sagebrush biome

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For this study, we used big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) as a model species to explore whether including human‐induced factors improves the fit of the species distribution models (SDM). Models including fire attributes and restoration treatments performed better than those including only climate and topographic variables. Number of fires and fire occurrence had the strongest relative effects on big sagebrush occurrence and cover, respectively. The models predicted that the probability of big sagebrush occurrence decreases by 1.2% (95% CI: −6.9%, 0.6%) when one fire occurs and cover decreases by 44.7% (95% CI: −47.9%, −41.3%) if at least one fire occurred over the 36 year period of record. Restoration practices increased the probability of big sagebrush occurrence but had minimal effect on cover. Our results demonstrate the potential value of including disturbance and land management along with climate in models to predict species distributions.

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