Research Data

Current and Future Distribution Models for Australian Terrestrial Vertebrates


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Current and Future Distribution Models for Australian Terrestrial Vertebrates
Date Record Created
Date Record Modified
Date Coverage
1990 to 2085
Time Period
(no information)
Geospatial Location
  1. Type: brief

    This collection consists of current and future distribution models for Australian terrestrial vertebrate species. For each species there is a dataset that consists of current and future species distribution models generated using 4 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) carbon emission scenarios, 18 global climate models (GCMs), and 8 time steps between 2015 and 2085.

  2. Type: full

    Observation records were filtered from the Atlas of Living Australia's (ALA) database based on expert opinion, and those observations inappropriate for modelling were excluded. Only species with >10 unique spatiotemporal records were used for modelling - in all 2605 species were modelled. Current climate was sourced as monthly precipitation and temperature minima and maxima from 1975 until 2005 at a 0.05° grid scale from the Australian Water Availability Project (AWAP - (Jones et al 2007, Grant et al 2008). Future climate projections were sourced through a collaboration with Drs Rachel Warren and Jeff Price, Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, UK. This data is available on Although new GCM runs for RCPs have not been fully completed, several research groups have implemented methods to utilize knowledge gained from SRES predictions to recreate predictions for the new RCPs using AR4 GCMs (e.g., Meinshausen, Smith et al. 2011; Rogelj, Meinshausen et al. 2012). The methods used to generate the GCM predictions for the RCP emission scenarios are defined at and in associated publications (Mitchell and Jones 2005; Warren, de la Nava Santos et al. 2008; Meinshausen, Raper et al. 2011). This data was downscaled to 0.05 degrees (~5km resolution) using a cubic spline of the anomalies; these anomalies were applied to a current climate baseline of 1976 to 2005 – climate of 1990 – generated from aggregating monthly data from Australia Water Availability Project (AWAP; These monthly temperature and precipitation values user used to create 19 standard bioclimatic variables. These bioclimatic variables are listed at All downscaling and bioclimatic variable creation was done using the climates package (VanDerWal, Beaumont et al. 2011) in R ( Used in the modelling were annual mean temperature, temperature seasonality, max and min monthly temperature, annual precipitation, precipitation seasonality, and precipitation of the wettest and driest quarters for current and all RCP scenarios (RCP3PD, RCP45, RCP6, RCP85) at 8 time steps between 2015 and 2085. Species distribution models were run using the presence-only modelling program Maxent (Phillips et al 2006). Maxent uses species presence records to statistically relate species occurrence to environmental variables on the principle of maximum entropy. All default settings were used except for background point allocation. We used a target group background (Phillips & Dudik 2008) to remove any spatial or temporal sampling bias in the modelling exercise.

  3. Type: note

    These species distribution models are displayed on Each species has a zipped file (.zip), approximately 700MB in size and contains the following files: a CSV file containing the occurrence records used in the modelling, a CSV file containing output from the Maxent modelling, a current distribution map (ascii grid), 32 median maps (ascii grid) - 8 time step median maps (averaged across all 18 GCMs) for each RCP , and 576 maps (ascii grid) - 8 time step maps for each GCM for each RCP. The data files can be found inside the directory for each species.

Related Publications
(no information)
Related Websites
  1. CliMAS Suitability: Vertebrate distributions based on climate suitability
  2. Atlas of Living Australia Biodiversity Information Explorer
Related Data
  1. Derived from: >> All future climate layers for Australia - 5km resolution
    • ID: a06a78f553e1452bcf007231f6204f04
Related Services
  1. Is available through: >> CliMAS Suitability: Visualising climate space and distribution of Australian Terrestrial Vertebrates
    • ID:
Technical metadata
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  1. Managed by: Dr Jeremy Vanderwal , Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, eResearch Centre (7330), School of Marine & Tropical Biology (6620)
  2. Enriched by: Miss Lauren Hodgson , School of Marine & Tropical Biology (6620), Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change
  3. Enriched by: Dr April Reside , Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, School of Marine & Tropical Biology (6620)
Primary Contact
Dr Erin Graham,
(no information)
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Fields of Research
  1. 050101 - Ecological Impacts of Climate Change (050101)
  2. 060208 - Terrestrial Ecology (060208)
Socio-Economic Objective
  1. 960303 - Climate Change Models (960303)
  1. species distribution
  2. geospatial data
Research Activity
(no information)
Research Themes
Tropical Ecosystems, Conservation and Climate Change
CC BY: Attribution 3.0 AU
License - Other
(no information)
Access Rights/Conditions
Please contact the data manager or nominated primary contact to negotiate access to this data. If you have difficulty, please contact for assistance.
Once access to the data has been obtained via negotiation with the data manager, use of the dataset is governed by the CC-BY licence.
Data Location
Online Locations
Stored At
Secure HPRC
Vanderwal, Jeremy.; Hodgson, Lauren.; Reside, April. (2012). Current and Future Distribution Models for Australian Terrestrial Vertebrates. James Cook University. (dataset).