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854. Design-based mapping of plant species presence, association and richness by nearest-neighbor interpolation

Working Paper n.854 - Maggio 2021

Alice Bartolini

DEPS, USiena

Rosa Maria Di Biase

CREA – Research Centre for Forestry and Wood, Arezzo

Lorenzo Fattorini

DEPS, USiena

Sara Franceschi

DEPS, USiena

Agnese Marcelli

Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro‑food and Forest Systems – University of Tuscia e Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele all’Adige (TN).


The difference between potential and actual distribution of species is emphasized, pointing out the ecological importance of maps depicting the actual species presence on the study region. Owing to the impossibility of performing complete surveys over large areas, the presence/absence of species at a pre-fixed spatial grain is estimated for any location of the study region from the presences/absences recorded within plots centered at sample locations and having the same grain. Estimation is performed in a design-based framework by means of the well-known nearest-   neighbor interpolator. Association maps and species richness maps are obtained as products and sum of the presence maps of single species. The design-based asymptotic unbiasedness and consistency of these maps are theoretically proven and pseudo-population bootstrap estimators of their precision are proposed and discussed. A simulation study is performed on a real community of 302 tree species settled in a 50-ha rectangle in the lowland tropical moist forest of Barro Colorado Island (BCI), central Panama, to check the finite-sample performance of the proposal. A case study for estimating the presence map and the association of holly oak and white violet in the Montagnola Senese (Central Italy) is reported. Technical details are contained in the appendices.


species distribution, asymptotic unbiasedness, consistency, pseudo-population bootstrap, simulation study, case study

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