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Supporting functionality to run ‘caret’ with spatial or spatial-temporal data. ‘caret’ is a frequently used package for model training and prediction using machine learning. CAST includes functions to improve spatial or spatial-temporal modelling tasks using ‘caret’. To decrease spatial overfitting and to improve model performances, the package implements a forward feature selection that selects suitable predictor variables in view to their contribution to spatial or spatio-temporal model performance. CAST further includes functionality to estimate the (spatial) area of applicability of prediction models.

Note: The developer version of CAST can be found on The CRAN Version can be found on


Scientific documentation of the methods

Spatial cross-validation

  • Milà, C., Mateu, J., Pebesma, E., Meyer, H. (2022): Nearest Neighbour Distance Matching Leave-One-Out Cross-Validation for map validation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 00, 1– 13.

  • Linnenbrink, J., Milà, C., Ludwig, M., and Meyer, H.: kNNDM (2023): k-fold Nearest Neighbour Distance Matching Cross-Validation for map accuracy estimation. EGUsphere [preprint].

Spatial variable selection

  • Meyer, H., Reudenbach, C., Hengl, T., Katurji, M., Nauss, T. (2018): Improving performance of spatio-temporal machine learning models using forward feature selection and target-oriented validation. Environmental Modelling & Software, 101, 1-9.

  • Meyer, H., Reudenbach, C., Wöllauer, S., Nauss, T. (2019): Importance of spatial predictor variable selection in machine learning applications - Moving from data reproduction to spatial prediction. Ecological Modelling. 411.

Area of applicability

  • Meyer, H., Pebesma, E. (2021). Predicting into unknown space? Estimating the area of applicability of spatial prediction models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 12, 1620– 1633.

Applications and use cases

  • Meyer, H., Pebesma, E. (2022): Machine learning-based global maps of ecological variables and the challenge of assessing them. Nature Communications, 13.

  • Ludwig, M., Moreno-Martinez, A., Hoelzel, N., Pebesma, E., Meyer, H. (2023): Assessing and improving the transferability of current global spatial prediction models. Global Ecology and Biogeography.