Improved understanding and prediction of freshwater fish communities through the use of joint species distribution models

Tyler Wagner, Gretchen J.A. Hansen, Erin M. Schliep, Bethany J. Bethke, Andrew E. Honsey, Peter C. Jacobson, Benjamen C. Kline, Shannon L. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Two primary goals in fisheries research are to (i) understand how habitat and environmental conditions influence the distribution of fishes across the landscape and (ii) make predictions about how fish communities will respond to environmental and anthropogenic change. In inland, freshwater ecosystems, quantitative approaches traditionally used to accomplish these goals largely ignore the effects of species interactions (competition, predation, mutualism) on shaping community structure, potentially leading to erroneous conclusions regarding habitat associations and unrealistic predictions about species distributions. Using two contrasting case studies, we highlight how joint species distribution models (JSDMs) can address the aforementioned deficiencies by simultaneously quantifying the effects of abiotic habitat variables and species dependencies. In particular, we show that conditional predictions of species occurrence from JSDMs can better predict species presence or absence compared with predictions that ignore species dependencies. JSDMs also allow for the estimation of site-specific probabilities of species co-occurrence, which can be informative for generating hypotheses about species interactions. JSDMs provide a flexible framework that can be used to address a variety of questions in fisheries science and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1540-1551
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2020

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