London, Nov 10 : A team of scientists has determined that the amount of land available for wildlife habitat is overestimated and may be less than previously thought of, because the scale of existing models is too large.
According to a report in New Scientist, the team comprised of Changwan Seo of the University of Seoul, South Korea, and his colleagues, who tested four models at a variety of spatial scales, using existing data for rare plants such as Coulter pine.
At present, most models divide the world into 50-kilometre grid squares, which gives a very coarse resolution, and is quite large.
The team found that the larger the grid size, the more the models overestimated the range available.
Within grid sizes of more than 16 by 16 kilometers, in areas like the eastern Sierra Nevada in California, conservationists overestimate the amount of habitat available to a species by two or three times.
According to Lee Hannah of Conservation International in Santa Barbara, California, who co-authored the research paper, conservationists will have to run models with smaller grid sizes, even though this costs more and consumes more computer time.