In the works

Smith, A.B. and Santos, M.J.  Preprint. Testing the ability of species distribution models to infer variable importance. bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/715904

Smith, A.B. and Santos, M.J. Using species distribution models to infer the importance of range-shaping factors: A review of methods and concepts.

Mohn, R.A., Oleas, N.H., Swift, J.F., Yatskievych, G., Smith, A.B., and Edwards, C.  Phylogeographic analysis of tall larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum) to test the history of a disjunction in its range between the Ozarks and Appalachians. In review.

Santos, M.J., Smith*, A.B., Dekker, S.C., Eppinga, M.B., Leitão, P.J., Moreno-Mateos, D., Morueta-Holme, N., and Ruggieri, M.  In prep.  Incorporating land use change in assessments of climate change vulnerability for biodiversity to inform policy. * Equal contribution.


We are happy to send articles upon request.

Smith, A.B., Beever, E.A., Kessler, A.E., Johnston, A.N., Ray, C., Epps, C.W., Lanier, H.C., Klinger, R.C., Rodhouse, T.J., Varner, J., Perrine, J., Seglund, A., Hall, E., Galbreath, K., Anderson, C., Billman, P., Blatz, G., Brewer, J., Vardaro, J.C., Chalfoun, A.D., Collins, G., Craighead, A., Curlis, C., Daly, C., Doak, D.F., East, M., Edwards, M., Erb, L., Ernest, K.A., Fauver, B., Foresman, K., Goehring, K., Hagar, J., Hayes, C.L., Henry, P., Hersey, K., Hilty, S.L., Jacobson, J., Jeffress, M.R., Manning, T.E., Masching, A., Maxwell, B., McCollough, R., McFarland, C., Miskow, E., Morelli, T,L., Moyer-Horner, L., Mueller, M., Nugent, M., Pratt, B., Rasmussen-Flores, M., Rickman, T.H., Robison, H., Rodriguez, A., Rowe, K.M.C., Rowe, K.C., Russello, M.A., Saab, V., Schmidt, A., Stewart, J.A.E., Stuart, J.N., Svancara, L.K., Thompson, W., Timmins, J., Treinish, G., Waterhouse, M.D., Westover, M.K., Wilkening, J., and Yandow, L. 2019. Alternatives to genetic affinity as a context for within-species response to climate. Nature Climate Change 9:787-794. (article | editorial highlight | PBS NOVA | SciGlow | The Scientist | PHYS.ORG)

Intraspecific heterogeneity in response to environmental conditions is typically assumed to be best described by partitioning the species along genetic lineages. Here we show ecoregional differences best capture variation in responses of the American pika to climate.

Morelli*, T.L., Smith*, A.B., Mancini, A.N., Balko, E. A., Borgenson, C., Dolch, R., Farris, Z., Federman, S., Golden, C.D., Holmes, S., Irwin, M., Jacobs, R.L., Johnson, S., King, T., Lehman, S., Louis, E.E. Jr., Murphy, A., Randriahaingo, H.N.T., Lucien, Randriannarimanana, H.L.L., Ratsimbazafy, J., Razafindratsima, O.H., and Baden, A.L. Accepted. The fate of Madagascar’s rainforest habitat.  Nature Climate Change 10:89-96. * Equal contribution (article | “behind the paper” | Washington Post | National Geographic | The Conversation | EurekAlert! | ScienceDaily)

“Optimistic” rates of deforestation predict complete loss of Madagascar’s rainforest habitat for the red and white ruffed lemur species, even ignoring the knock-on effects of climate change.

Hoban, S., Dawson, A. Robinson, J., Smith, A.B., Strand, A. 2019. Inference of biogeographic history by formally integrating distinct lines of evidence: genetic, environmental niche, and fossil. Ecography 42:1991-2011. (open access)

Historically, inferences of species’ past biogeographic trajectories have relied on individual data types and methods (pollen-vegetation modeling, genomics, species distribution modeling). More recently, studies combining these methods only integrate across approaches informally. Here we review the state-of-the-art in pollen-vegetation modeling, niche modeling, and phylogeographic analysis then present a way forward for formal statistical integration based on Approximate Bayesian Computation.

* Runner-up for Ecography‘s 2019 E4 Award!

Access the recommendation on F1000Prime Smith, A.B., Godsoe, W., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Wang, H-H., and Warren, D. 2019. Niche estimation above and below the species level. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34:260-273 (article page | science daily |Texas A&M)

Niche estimation has largely proceeded assuming neither anything above nor anything below the species level is relevant to understanding the species-level niche topology or evolution. We review the incipient literature on incorporating phylogenetic information into ecological niche models and challenge the cultural inertia of assessing accuracy of models by assessing their ability to recreate geographic ranges.

Galliart, M., Bello, N., Knapp, M., Poland, J., St. Amand, P., Baer, S., Maricle, B., Smith, A.B., and Johnson, L.J.  2019.  Local adaptation, genetic divergence, and experimental natural selection in a foundation grass across the US Great Plains’ climate gradient. Global Change Biology 25:850-868 (open access)

Although the dominant grass of the North American tallgrass prairie, Andropogon gerardii, occupies nearly half of North America, we show experimental evidence for strong local adaptation across a rainfall gradient spanning 500 to 1200 mm/yr.

Frances, A., Smith, A.B., and Khoury, C. 2018.  Conservation status and threat assessments for North American crop wild relatives. Pp. 189-208 in North American Crop Wild Relatives: Conservation and Use (Springer, New York). (pre-print | book)

“This chapter introduces the roles of conservation status and threat assessments in informing conservation priorities for crop wild relatives in North America and provides an overview of the current results for US taxa.” Some key results: Residential development is the most common threat to crop wild relatives in the US, followed by fire and fire suppression, then invasive species. In contrast, the most common threats to all rare plants in the US are outdoor recreation, followed by livestock, then residential development.

Kunin, W.E., Harte, J., He, Fangliang, Hui, C., Jobe, R.T., Ostling, A., Polce, C., Šizling, A., Smith, A.B., Smith, Krister, Smart, S.M., Storch, D., Tjørve, E., Ugland, K-I., Ulrich, W., and Varma, V.  2018.  Up-scaling biodiversity: Estimating the species-area relationship from small samples.  Ecological Monographs 88:170-187. (article page)

Of 19 “upscaling” techniques, the most successful method was able to predict total plant richness in the United Kingdom with <10% error, though few techniques were able to recreate the shape of the actual species-area relationship.

Santos, M.J., Smith, A.B., Thorne, J.H., and Moritz, C.  2017.  The relative influence of change in habitat and climate on elevation range limits in small mammals in Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A.  Climate Change Responses 4:7. (open access)

Distributional models using climate predictors were better able to predict upper-limit range dynamics of small mammals while models including vegetation (and possibly climate) were better able to predict dynamics at lower elevational limits.

Kitzes, J., Berlow, E., Conlisk, E., Erb, K., Iha, K., Martinez, N., Newman, E.A., Plutzar, C., Smith, A.B., and Harte, J.  2017.  Consumption-based conservation targeting: Linking biodiversity loss to upstream demand through a global wildlife footprint.  Conservation Letters 10:531-538. (open access | kudos)

In the first analysis of its kind we estimate the amount of biodiversity (number of birds, amount of bird range) displaced by economic consumption of various goods (beef, gasoline, milk, etc.) across the world.  Ergo, which is worse for biodiversity, buying a dollar of hamburger or a dollar of gasoline?

Smith, A.B., Alsdurf, J., Knapp, M. and Johnson, L.C.  2017.  Phenotypic distribution models corroborate species distribution models: A shift in the role and prevalence of a dominant prairie grass in response to climate change.  Global Change Biology 23:4365-4375. (article page | kudos)

An extension of the “species” distribution modeling paradigm to phenotype predicts widespread decline in stature, biomass, and leaf width of a currently dominant prairie plant, Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem).

Covered by at least 94 media outlets with a combined subscription/listener/watcher base of 78 million, including The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, US News and World Report, The Topeka Capital Journal, The Manhattan Mercury, and numerous other regional newspapers, radio stations (e.g., KWMU 90.7), TV stations (e.g., KWCH12), and science and environmental news websites (e.g., Science News Online and NRDC).

Hernández-Yáñez, H., Kos, J.T., Bast, M.D., Griggs, J.L., Hage, P.A., Killian, A.,Whitmore, M.B., Loza, M. L., Smith, A.B.  2016.  A systematic assessment of threats affecting the rare plants of the United States.  Biological Conservation 203:260-267. (article page | kudos)

Across the continental US the most common threat to rare plants is recreation (35% of species), followed by livestock (33%), residential development (28%), non-native invasive species (27%), and construction and maintenance of roads, railroads, and utility lines (21%). Evidence suggests that the proportion of species affected by each threat has increased through time.

St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU (20 October 2016)
Inside Science by Gabriel Popkin (3 November 2016)

Huntley, B., Foden, W.B., Smith, A.B., Platts, P., Watson, J. and Garcia, R.A. 2016. Chapter 5. Using CCVAs and interpreting their results. In W.B. Foden and B.E. Young, editors. IUCN SSC Guidelines for Assessing Species’ Vulnerability to Climate Change. Version 1.0. Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 59. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. pp 33–48. (web site & pdf)

Huntley, B., Foden, W.B., Pearce-Higgins, J., and Smith, A.B. 2016. Chapter 6. Understanding and working with uncertainty. In W.B. Foden and B.E. Young, editors. IUCN SSC Guidelines for Assessing Species’ Vulnerability to Climate Change. Version 1.0. Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 59. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. pp 49–56. (web site & pdf)

Ulrey, C., Quiantana-Ascencio, P.F., Kauffman, G., Smith, A.B., and Menges, E.S.  2016.  Life at the top: Long-term demography, microclimatic refugia, and responses to climate change for a high-elevation southern Appalachian endemic plant.  Biological Conservation 200:80-92. (article page)

Climate change refugia should be identified based on the survivorship of species within candidate areas, not just the ability of the physical nature of the site to buffer macroclimate.  Here we examine the ability of wet, sheltered, high-altitude habitats to foster positive population growth in an endangered plant species–and find it does not either in the present or under scenarios of future climate change.

Smith, A.B., Long, Q.G., and Albrecht, M.A.  2016.  Shifting targets: spatial priorities for ex situ plant conservation depend on interactions between current threats, climate change, and uncertainty.  Biodiversity & Conservation 25:905-922. (article page)

We combine trait-based and niche modeling approaches to prioritize rare species for conservation seed banking.

Karger, D.N., Cord, A.F., Kessler, M., Kreft, H., Kühn, I., Pompe, S., Sandel, B., Cabral, J.S., Smith, A.B., Svenning, J-C., Tuomisto, H., Weigelt, P., and Wesche, K. 2016. Delineating probabilistic species pools in ecology and biogeography. Global Ecology & Biogeography 25:489-501. (open access)

Instead of assuming species in species pools are either “in” or “out” of the pool we propose a probabilistic pool in which species are assessed for their ability to live in and disperse to focal areas.

Brandt, L., He, H., Iverson, L., Thompson, F., Butler, Patricia, Handler, S., Janowiak, M., Swanston, C., Albrecht, M., Blume-Weaver, R., Dijak, B., Deizman, P., DePuy, J., Dinkel, G., Fei, S., Jones-Farrand, T., Leahy, M., Matthews, S., Nelson, P., Oberle, B., Perez, J., Peters, M., Prasad, A., Schneiderman, J.E., Shuey, J., Smith, A.B., Studyvin, C., Tirpak, J., Walk, J., Wang, W., Watts, L., Weigel, D., Westin, S. 2014. Central Hardwoods ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: A report from the Central Hardwoods Climate Change Response Framework project. General Technical Report NRS-124, Newtown Square, PSA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. (pdf)

Smith, A.B., M.J. Santos, M. S. Koo, K.C. Rowe, K.M.C. Rowe, J.L. Patton, S. Beissinger, and C. Moritz.  2013.  Evaluation of species distribution models by resampling of sites surveyed a century ago by Joseph Grinnell.  Ecography 36:1017-1031. (article page)

SDMs can predict accurately across a century of climate change, but you can’t predict future performance by performance against current test data.  Pseudoabsences cannot stand in for high-quality absences for model testing.

Smith, A.B.  2013.  On evaluating species distribution models with random background sites in place of absences when test presences disproportionately sample suitable habitat.  Diversity and Distributions 19:867-872. (open access)

Apparent AUC can actually have a negative relationship with real AUC, so making choices during modeling of species’ distributions to increase AUC can actually decrease real performance of the model!

Smith, A.B.  2013.  The relative influence of temperature, moisture, and their interaction on range limits of mammals over the past century.  Global Ecology and Biogeography 22:334-343. (article page)

Species’ ranges are overwhelmingly limited by combinations of temperature and moisture within the species’ tolerance range for these factors but where the particular combination of both is prohibitive.

Smith, A.B., Sandel, B., Kraft, N., and Carey, S. 2013. Characterizing scale-dependent community assembly using the functional-diversity–area relationship. Ecology 94:2392–2402. (article page)

The spatial scaling of functional diversity provides a diagnostic tool for testing alternative mechanisms of community assembly.

Morelli, T.L., A.B. Smith, C. Kastely, I. Mastroserio, C. Moritz, and S. Beissinger.  2012.  Anthropogenic refugia ameliorate the severe climate-related decline of a montane mammal along its trailing edge.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 279:4279-4286.  (open access)

Belding’s ground squirrel has retracted its range by >40% over the past century except in places supplemented by irrigation.

Access the recommendation on F1000Prime Barnosky, A.D, E.A. Hadly, J. Bascompte, E.L. Berlow, J.H. Brown, M. Fortelius, W.M. Getz, J. Harte, A. Hastings, P.A. Marquet, N.D. Martinez, A. Mooers, P. Roopnarine, G. Vermeij, J.W. Williams, R. Gillespie, J. Kitzes, C. Marshall, N. Matzke, D.P. Mindell, E. Revilla, A.B. Smith.  2012.  Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere.  Nature 486:52-58. (article page | kudos)

Like the atmosphere, the living biosphere may have irreversible tipping points.

Served as basis of consensus statement on sustainability signed by 1400+ scientists and presented to: the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry, President Xi Jinping (China), Governor Ichiro Matsui (Osaka, Japan), Energy & Climate Change Minister Gregory Barker, (United Kingdom), Governor Eruviel Avila (Mexico), Right Honourable Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman (Minister  of the State of Sabah, Malaysia), and others.

Initiated policy brief requested by Governor Jerry Brown (California; press releases: UC Berkeley, Stanford).  Served as supporting document for MOU on climate change between China’s National Development and Reform Commission and California.

Article covered by: New York Times, BBC News, Los Angeles Times, WIRED, Bill Moyers, and Al Jazeera (op-ed).

Featured in documentary Demain (English-language release title Tomorrow) shown at COP21 and UNESCO.

Used as basis for Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications’ 2013 Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling.

Smith, A.B.  2011.  “Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals,” “International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling,” and “Sea Shepherd Conservation Society” in Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues, Salem Press, Pasadena.

Smith, A.B.  2010.  Caution with curves: Caveats for using the species-area relationship in conservation.  Biological Conservation 143:555-564. (article page)

The species-area relationship only ensures that one individual of a species is present in an area, so conservation prioritization methods like Return on Investment can miscalculate species expected to be protected by conservation actions.

Harte, J., A.B. Smith, and D. Storch.  2009.  Biodiversity scales from plots to biomes with a universal species-area curve.  Ecology Letters 12:798-797. (article page)

The form of any species-area relationship can be specified simply by knowledge of the total number of species and individuals at one scale.

Sandel, B. and A.B. Smith. 2009. Scale as a lurking factor: Incorporating scale-dependence in experimental ecology.  Oikos 118:1284-1291. (article page)

Most experiments are implemented at one spatial scale, but incorporating multi-scale measurements can uncover erstwhile hidden mechanisms.

Smith, A.B.  2009.  “Internation Union for the Conservation of Nature” and “Dolphins and Porpoises” in Ducth, S.I (ed.) Encyclopedia of Global Warming, Salem Press, Pasadena.

Access the recommendation on F1000Prime Harte, J., Z.T. Zillo, E. Conlisk, and A.B. Smith.  2008.  Maximum entropy and the state variable approach to macroecology.  Ecology 89:2700-2711. (article page)

Maximization of the entropy of information in statistical distributions provides a powerful method for predicting many key patterns in macroecology: the species-abundance distribution, the species-area relationship, the endemics-area relationship, and the abundance of individuals of a species across space.

Srinivasan, U.T., S.P. Carey, E. Hallstein, P.A.T. Higgins, A.C. Kerr, L.E. Koteen, A.B. Smith, R. Watson, J. Harte, and R.B. Norgaard.  2008.  The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105:1768-1773. (article page | kudos)

Rich nations owe poor nations more in damages from consumption that harms the environment than poor nations owe rich nations in bank debt.

Article covered by: Nature, The Guardian, MongaBay

Harte, J., E. Conlisk, A. Ostling, J.L. Green, A.B. Smith.  2005.  A theory of  spatial structure in ecological communities at multiple spatial scales.  Ecological Monographs 75:179-197. (article page)

A simple statistical rule adapted from statistical mechanics predicts many macroecological properties: the species-area relationship, the endemics-area relationship, and the abundance of individual species across space.

Lloyd-Smith, J.O., P.C. Cross, C.J. Briggs, M. Daugherty, W.M. Getz, J. Latto, M.S. Sanchez, A.B. Smith, and A. Swei.  2005.  Should we expect population thresholds for wildlife disease?  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20:511-519. (article page)

Models of disease presume hard thresholds for the establishment and persistence of diseases, but in reality these boundaries are not abrupt.


Matelach, G.K.  2015.  How the pika is key to measuring climate change.  Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.  (web page)

Featured project on Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, February 2014  (web page).

Covered by Nature: Gewin, V.  2013.  Plan seeks ‘chaperones’ for threatened species: Botanical gardens proposed as stopping-off points for plant species as climate warms. (article page)

Featured in Scitable (Nature Education) blog: Wittington, K.  2013.  Plant pioneers: Assisting the migration of climate-endangered species. (web page)