Friday, July 3, 2009

ENMTools Used in Bigfoot Study

Who would have guessed that the first published study using the test for niche identity implemented in ENMTools would be about bigfoot? The study in question is a guest editorial in the Journal of Biogeography that uses niche modeling of bigfoot localities (both observations and footprints) as part of a tongue-in-cheek critique of contemporary niche modeling practices. The main point of the study is that dubious observational data can be used to generate niche models that produce "visually convincing distributions." Using the test for niche identity, the authors show that the niche model projection for bigfoot is indistinguishable from the niche model projection for the black bear, bolstering their case that putative bigfoot observations may be cases of mistaken identity. The authors' general suggestion that point locality data extracted from public databases (including databases that are considered more reputable than the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization) requires greater scrutiny is well-taken; nobody should be niche modeling from publicly available databases without expert validation of the localities being considered.