Using CLIMEX and the Taguchi Method, a process-based niche model was developed to estimate potential distributions of Phoenix dactylifera L. (date palm), an economically important crop in many counties. Development of the model was based on both its native and invasive distribution and validation was carried out in terms of its extensive distribution in Iran. To identify model parameters having greatest influence on distribution of date palm, a sensitivity analysis was carried out. Changes in suitability were established by mapping of regions where the estimated distribution changed with parameter alterations. This facilitated the assessment of certain areas in Iran where parameter modifications impacted the most, particularly in relation to suitable and highly suitable locations. Parameter sensitivities were also evaluated by the calculation of area changes within the suitable and highly suitable categories. The low temperature limit (DV2), high temperature limit (DV3), upper optimal temperature (SM2) and high soil moisture limit (SM3) had the greatest impact on sensitivity, while other parameters showed relatively less sensitivity or were insensitive to change. For an accurate fit in species distribution models, highly sensitive parameters require more extensive research and data collection methods. Results of this study demonstrate a more cost effective method for developing date palm distribution models, an integral element in species management, and may prove useful for streamlining requirements for data collection in potential distribution modeling for other species as well.
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- Phoenix dactylifera L.
- date palm
- Taguchi Method