Date of Award

Winter 2020

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Mark J Ducey

Second Advisor

Thomas D Lee

Third Advisor

Richard A Hallett


Species niche is a fundamental concept in ecology, but quantitative descriptions of nicheare lacking for most species. We used new statistical techniques from species distribution modeling (SDM) literature to create estimates of niche for 41 understory species in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Niche estimates allow for improved understanding of the environmental gradients determining the spatial patterns of species. We found that elevation and soil fertility were the dominant gradients influencing the distribution of our study species. The use of remotely sensed variables alone were capable of producing useful SDMs but were improved by the addition of soil variables. Species response curves allowed for quantitative responses of species to environmental gradients to be observed, and provide the potential for species to be used as predictors of environmental variables. Our results contribute to the understanding of what predictor variables are necessary to effectively model species using SDMs as well as providing an understanding of the distribution of our study species and how they can be used as predictors of environmental conditions.