The objective of this study is to investigate whether presence/absence models can be used as surrogates of arthropod abundance, and eventually under which circumstances such surrogacy is guaranteed. Presence/absence data for 48 arthropod species from Terceira Island were modelled using artificial neural networks. Probabilities of occurrence were correlated with abundance data from a standardized arthropod survey programme. Although a tendency was found for vagile species to show relationships, only nine species showed significant positive correlations between probability of presence and abundance. Five of these were exotic spider species with high abundances and wide distributions in several human-modified habitats. The patchy distribution of pristine habitats, the capacity to reach them and the probable low dependence on limiting resources, other than food, enhance the relationship. A lack of significant correlations for the majority of the species may be due to historical events, inappropriate scale, demographic controls of density, or the incapacity of presence/absence models to account for environmental suitability. The difficulty to identify a priori the species for which the relationship will hold advises against the use of species distribution models as surrogates of arthropod abundance.
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Vol. 46 • No. 6