Designing an efficient sampling strategy is of crucial importance for habitat suitability modelling. This paper compares four such strategies, namely, 'random', 'regular', 'proportional-stratified' and 'equal -stratified'- to investigate (1) how they affect prediction accuracy and (2) how sensitive they are to sample size. In order to compare them, a virtual species approach (Ecol. Model. 145 (2001) 111) in a real landscape, based on reliable data, was chosen. The distribution of the virtual species was sampled 300 times using each of the four strategies in four sample sizes. The sampled data were then fed into a GLM to make two types of prediction: (1) habitat suitability and (2) presence/ absence. Comparing the predictions to the known distribution of the virtual species allows model accuracy to be assessed. Habitat suitability predictions were assessed by Pearson's correlation coefficient and presence/absence predictions by Cohen's K agreement coefficient. The results show the 'regular' and 'equal-stratified' sampling strategies to be the most accurate and most robust. We propose the following characteristics to improve sample design: (1) increase sample size, (2) prefer systematic to random sampling and (3) include environmental information in the design
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