Master's Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Robert P. Anderson

Second Advisor

Ana C. Carnaval

Third Advisor

Mary E. Blair


Niche model, conservation, mammal


In the context of global change, a necessary first step for the conservation of species is gaining a good understanding of their distributional limits. This is especially important for biodiversity hotspots with high endemism such as the Northern Andes. The olinguito (Procyonidae: Bassaricyon neblina) is a recently described, medium-sized carnivoran found in Northern Andean cloud forests. A preliminary distributional model was published along with the original description, and I here provide revised distributional estimates using updated locality records and more current ENM methods. I build ecological niche models in Maxent using occurrence data (georeferenced museum records and citizen science-derived photo-vouchers) and bioclimatic variables. Optimal models were selected via two different approaches, AICc and performance on withheld data. The occurrence data used here show climatic signals different from those for data used in the original description of the species. The AICc-optimal model aligned more closely with current knowledge of the species’ elevational limits. This model shows more extensive suitable area in northern Colombia, and highlights areas for future sampling, such as the central portion of the Western Cordillera of Colombia, mid- and northern portions of the Central Cordillera of Colombia, southwestern Colombia, and the eastern slopes of Eastern Andes in Ecuador. Future conservation planning for this species should also take into account key threats, including deforestation and climate change.

Available for download on Thursday, August 23, 2018