Maximum entropy species distribution modelling tutorial

Inspiration | Features | Download | Case studies | People | Acknowledgements

Learn Maximum Entropy species distribution modelling, using Excel

This tool is an Excel workbook that takes the user through the fitting of a maximum entropy Species Distribution Model to fake presence-only data. It breaks down all of the intermediate calculations, implements the Microsoft Solver library to fit the model and then analyses how well that model fits the data.


The Maximum Entropy algorithm is commonly used in Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) because of the popularity and ease-of-use of the MaxEnt software. However many people who use that software, or who would like to use it, find it difficult to understand how the algorithm works. We initially put together this Excel tutorial to explain this to ourselves. However we realised that interest this was more widespread so we share our tutorial here.


  • Breaks-down the Maximum Entropy algorithm step by step
  • Uses the Microsoft Solver to train the model
  • Demonstrates the analysis of model performance and environmental response functions


The tutorial can be downloaded from here.

Case studies


Matthew Smith at Microsoft Research Cambridge wrote this tutorial.


Thanks to the MaxEnt discussion group for picking up bugs in early versions of this. Thanks to Mindy Syfert, David Coomes and Cory Merow for some extreme testing and transforming this work into research papers.


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