Sci Rep. 2022 Jul 23;12(1):12617. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-16571-y.
Melia azedarach L. is an important economic tree widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of China and some other countries. However, it is unclear how the species’ suitable habitat will respond to future climate changes. We aimed to select the most accurate one among seven data mining models to predict the current and future suitable habitats for M. azedarach in China. These models include: maximum entropy (MaxEnt), support vector machine (SVM), generalized linear model (GLM), random forest (RF), naive bayesian model (NBM), extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost), and gradient boosting machine (GBM). A total of 906 M. azedarach locations were identified, and sixteen climate predictors were used for model building. The models’ validity was assessed using three measures (Area Under the Curves (AUC), kappa, and overall accuracy (OA)). We found that the RF provided the most outstanding performance in prediction power and generalization capacity. The top climate factors affecting the species’ suitable habitats were mean coldest month temperature (MCMT), followed by the number of frost-free days (NFFD), degree-days above 18 °C (DD > 18), temperature difference between MWMT and MCMT, or continentality (TD), mean annual precipitation (MAP), and degree-days below 18 °C (DD < 18). We projected that future suitable habitat of this species would increase under both the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios for the 2011-2040 (2020s), 2041-2070 (2050s), and 2071-2100 (2080s). Our findings are expected to assist in better understanding the impact of climate change on the species and provide scientific basis for its planting and conservation.