Characteristics of Environmental Data Layers for Use in Species Distribution Modelling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Species distribution modelling is often employed to predict the distribution of a species in unsampled areas based on its species-environment relationship in sampled areas, and is becoming a more widely used tool in the management of fisheries resources and benthic ecosystems. Continuous surfaces of environmental data are necessary in order to predict over the entire spatial domain of the model. There are growing numbers of online sources of environmental data assembled for the purpose of habitat classification or species distribution modelling. However, the data hosted on these sites is often on differing spatial scales. Such data are often spatially interpolated to provide continuous surfaces that can be used for modelling at all spatial scales. In this report we provide detailed information on 113 environmental variables for the Gulf of St. Lawrence that have been obtained from a broad range of data sources and spatially interpolated using geostatistical methods. For each variable we document the underlying data distribution and relevant diagnostics of the interpolation models, and present the final interpolated surface. These interpolated layers have been compiled in a common (raster) format and archived at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. The information detailed in this report will help future users of these layers make informed decisions on which variables are appropriate for their modelling needs.