Robust methods by which to generate virtual species are needed urgently in the emerging field of distributional ecology to evaluate performance of techniques for modeling ecological niches and species distributions and to generate new questions in biogeography. Virtual species provide the opportunity to test hypotheses and methods based on known and unbiased distributions. We present Niche Analyst (NicheA), a toolkit developed to generate virtual species following the Hutchinsonian approach of an n-multidimensional space occupied by the species. Ecological niche models are generated, analyzed, and visualized in an environmental space, and then projected to the geographic space in the form of continuous or binary species distribution models. NicheA is implemented in a stable and user-friendly Java platform. The software, online manual, and user support are freely available at < http://nichea.sourceforge.net >.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Sergio Estay for his comments on the NicheA installation process. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (A New Method to Predict the Species Distributions, 31100390), the Science and Technology Supporting Project of Ministry of Science, Microsoft Research Grant #47780, and NSF grant DEB-1208472.
© 2015 The Authors