Bioclimatic predictors for supporting ecological applications in the conterminous United States

Product Type: 

Data Series




O’Donnell, M.S. and D.A. Ignizio

Suggested Citation: 

O’Donnell, M.S. and D.A. Ignizio. 2012. Bioclimatic predictors for supporting ecological applications in the conterminous United States. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 691.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has developed climate indices, referred to as bioclimatic predictors, which highlight climate conditions best related to species physiology. A set of 20 bioclimatic predictors were developed as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) continuous raster surfaces for each year between 1895 and 2009. The Parameter-elevation Regression on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) and down-scaled PRISM data, which included both averaged multi-year and averaged monthly climate summaries, was used to develop these multi-scale bioclimatic predictors. Bioclimatic predictors capture information about annual conditions (annual mean temperature, annual precipitation, annual range in temperature and precipitation), as well as seasonal mean climate conditions and intra-year seasonality (temperature of the coldest and warmest months, precipitation of the wettest and driest quarters). Examining climate over time is useful when quantifying the effects of climate changes on species’ distributions for past, current, and forecasted scenarios. These data, which have not been readily available to scientists, can provide biologists and ecologists with relevant and multi-scaled climate data to augment research on the responses of species to changing climate conditions. The relationships established between species demographics and distributions with bioclimatic predictors can inform land managers of climatic effects on species during decisionmaking processes.

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