Accommodating species climate-forced dispersal and uncertainties in spatial conservation planning

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Spatial conservation prioritization should seek to anticipate climate change impacts on biodiversity and to mitigate these impacts through the development of dynamic conservation plans. Here, we defined spatial priorities for the conservation of amphibians inhabiting the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot that overcome the likely impacts of climate change on the distribution of this imperiled fauna. First, we built ecological niche models (ENMs) for 431 amphibian species both for current time and for the mid-point of a 30-year period spanning 2071–2099 (i.e. 2080). For modeling species’ niches, we combined six modeling methods and three different climate models. We also quantified and mapped model uncertainties. Our consensus models forecasted range shifts that culminate with high species richness in central and eastern Atlantic Forest, both for current time and for 2080. Most species had a significant range contraction (up to 72%) and 12% of species were projected to be regionally extinct. Most species would need to disperse because suitable climatic sites will change. Therefore, we identified a network of priority sites for conservation that minimizes the distance a given species would need to disperse because of changes in future habitat suitability (i.e. climate-forced dispersal) as well as uncertainties associated to ENMs. This network also maximized complementary species representation across currently established protected areas. Priority sites already include possible dispersal corridors linking current and future suitable habitats for amphibians. Although we used the a top-ranked Biodiversity Hotspot and amphibians as a case study for illustrating our approach, our study may help developing more effective conservation strategies under climate change, especially when applied at different spatial scales, geographic regions, and taxonomic groups.




LEMES, Priscila; LOYOLA, Rafael Dias. Accommodating species climate-forced dispersal and uncertainties in spatial conservation planning. Plos One, San Francisco, v. 8, n. 1, p. e54323, Jan. 2013.