I provide a brief introduction to the concept of spatial autocorrelation and its incorporation into regression-type models. Spatial autocorrelation occurs when the response variable is correlated with itself at other locations in the region of interest. The autocorrelation usually takes a specific form where observations close in space are more correlated than those farther apart, and the rate of decay of the correlation is a function of the distance separating 2 locations. I present 2 commonly used models: 1) geostatistical modeling in which data are collected at points in the study region and 2) conditional autoregression (lattice) models in which data are aggregated over small nonoverlapping sub-areas of the study region. I also describe incorporation of explanatory covariates, such as habitat or physico-chemical attributes. I emphasize frequentist methods, but I briefly describe Bayesian approaches. I also provide some advantages, such as obtaining correct standard errors for estimators, and disadvantages, such as requirements for larger sample sizes, of incorporating spatial autocorrelation into the modeling effort. This information can aid researchers in designing and analyzing models of the relationships between species distributions and habitat. As a result, more informative models can be developed which further aid in management of wildlife.
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Vol. 72 • No. 1