Can multilayer perceptron ensembles model the ecological niche of freshwater fish species?

Autores UPV
Revista Ecological Modelling


The potential of Multilayer Perceptron (MLP) Ensembles to explore the ecology of freshwater fish specieswas tested by applying the technique to redfin barbel (Barbus haasi Mertens, 1925), an endemic and mon-tane species that inhabits the North-East quadrant of the Iberian Peninsula. Two different MLP Ensembleswere developed. The physical habitat model considered only abiotic variables, whereas the biotic modelalso included the density of the accompanying fish species and several invertebrate predictors. The results showed that MLP Ensembles may outperform single MLPs. Moreover, active selection of MLP candidatesto create an optimal subset of MLPs can further improve model performance. The physical habitat modelconfirmed the redfin barbel preference for middle-to-upper river segments whereas the importance ofdepth confirms that redfin barbel prefers pool-type habitats. Although the biotic model showed higheruncertainty, it suggested that redfin barbel, European eel and the considered cyprinid species have similarhabitat requirements. Due to its high predictive performance and its ability to deal with model uncertainty, the MLP Ensemble is a promising tool for ecological modelling or habitat suitability prediction in environmental flow assessment.