virtualspecies: an R package to generate virtual species distributions


The virtualspecies package is a freely available package for R designed to generate virtual species distributions, a procedure increasingly used in ecology to improve species distribution models. This package provides a framework for integrating the existing methodological approaches with the objective of generating virtual species distributions with increased ecological realism. The package includes (1) generating virtual species’ suitability from a spatial set of environmental conditions, with two different approaches; (2) converting the environmental suitability into presence-absence with a probabilistic approach; (3) introducing dispersal limitations in the realised virtual species distributions and (4) sampling occurrences with different biases in the sampling procedure.



The package is now available on the Comprehensive R Archive Network.

You can install it directly from R / RStudio, searching for the package named « virtualspecies », or download it manually from the CRAN:


Complete tutorial

There is a complete tutorial detailing all the possibilities of the virtualspecies R package. It is available online:

The virtualspecies R package tutorial

Development version

If you are interested in looking at the source files of the development version, then you can go to the github repository:


Please cite as follows:

Leroy B., Meynard C.N., Bellard C., Courchamp F. 2016. virtualspecies: an R package to generate virtual species distributions. Ecography 39:599-607