Habitability Models for Astrobiology

Abel Méndez, Edgard G. Rivera-Valentín, Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Justin Filiberto, Ramses M. Ramírez, Tana E. Wood, Alfonso Dávila, Chris McKay, Kevin N.Ortiz Ceballos, Marcos Jusino-Maldonado, Nicole J. Torres-Santiago, Guillermo Nery, René Heller, Paul K. Byrne, Michael J. Malaska, Erica Nathan, Marta Filipa Simões, André Antunes, Jesús Martínez-Frías, Ludmila CaroneNoam R. Izenberg, Dimitra Atri, Humberto Itic Carvajal Chitty, Priscilla Nowajewski-Barra, Frances Rivera-Hernández, Corine Y. Brown, Kennda L. Lynch, David Catling, Jorge I. Zuluaga, Juan F. Salazar, Howard Chen, Grizelle González, Madhu Kashyap Jagadeesh, Jacob Haqq-Misra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Habitability has been generally defined as the capability of an environment to support life. Ecologists have been using Habitat Suitability Models (HSMs) for more than four decades to study the habitability of Earth from local to global scales. Astrobiologists have been proposing different habitability models for some time, with little integration and consistency among them, being different in function to those used by ecologists. Habitability models are not only used to determine whether environments are habitable, but they also are used to characterize what key factors are responsible for the gradual transition from low to high habitability states. Here we review and compare some of the different models used by ecologists and astrobiologists and suggest how they could be integrated into new habitability standards. Such standards will help improve the comparison and characterization of potentially habitable environments, prioritize target selections, and study correlations between habitability and biosignatures. Habitability models are the foundation of planetary habitability science, and the synergy between ecologists and astrobiologists is necessary to expand our understanding of the habitability of Earth, the Solar System, and extrasolar planets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1017-1027
Number of pages11
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Astrobiology
  • Biosignatures
  • Exoplanets
  • Habitability
  • Habitat Suitability Models
  • Planetary habitability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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