Tyberghein L., Verbruggen H., Pauly K., Troupin C., Mineur F. & De Clerck O. (2012)
Bio-ORACLE: a global environmental dataset for marine species distribution modeling
Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 272-281


Aim: The oceans harbor a great diversity of organisms whose distribution and ecological preferences are often poorly understood. Species distribution modeling (SDM) could improve such knowledge and inform marine ecosystem management and conservation. Regrettably, marine SDM has lagged behind, partly because no comprehensive and user-friendly environmental data packages were available. This study aims to address this need by assembling a comprehensive package of global environmental rasters.
Location: Global, marine
Methods: We compiled global coverage data, e.g. satellite imagery and in situ measured data, representing various aspects of the marine environment relevant for species distributions. Rasters were assembled at a resolution of 5 arcmin (9.2 km) and a uniform landmask was applied. The utility of the dataset is evaluated by maximum entropy SDM of the invasive seaweed Codium fragile subsp. fragile.
Results: We present ORACLE (Ocean Rasters for Analyses of CLimate and Environment), a global dataset consisting of 23 geophysical, biotic and climate rasters. This user-friendly data package for marine species distribution modeling is available for download at The high predictive power of the distribution model of Codium fragile subsp. fragile clearly illustrates the utility of the data package for marine SDM.
Main conclusions: The availability of this global environmental data package has the potential to bring marine SDM on par with terrestrial studies. The high predictive success of the presence-only model of a real marine species shows that the information contained in ORACLE is informative about marine distributions and permits building highly accurate species distribution models.

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