Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of threatened forest-restricted birds in Madagascar



Rado H. Andriamasimanana, Asity Madagascar, P.O. Box 1074, Antananarivo, Madagascar, Tel: +261(0)202253607; E-mails:,


The greatest common threat to birds in Madagascar has historically been from anthropogenic deforestation. During recent decades, global climate change is now also regarded as a significant threat to biodiversity. This study uses Maximum Entropy species distribution modeling to explore how potential climate change could affect the distribution of 17 threatened forest endemic bird species, using a range of climate variables from the Hadley Center's HadCM3 climate change model, for IPCC scenario B2a, for 2050. We explore the importance of forest cover as a modeling variable and we test the use of pseudo-presences drawn from extent of occurrence distributions. Inclusion of the forest cover variable improves the models and models derived from real-presence data with forest layer are better predictors than those from pseudo-presence data. Using real-presence data, we analyzed the impacts of climate change on the distribution of nine species. We could not predict the impact of climate change on eight species because of low numbers of occurrences. All nine species were predicted to experience reductions in their total range areas, and their maximum modeled probabilities of occurrence. In general, species range and altitudinal contractions follow the reductive trend of the Maximum presence probability. Only two species (Tyto soumagnei and Newtonia fanovanae) are expected to expand their altitude range. These results indicate that future availability of suitable habitat at different elevations is likely to be critical for species persistence through climate change. Five species (Eutriorchis astur, Neodrepanis hypoxantha, Mesitornis unicolor, Euryceros prevostii, and Oriola bernieri) are probably the most vulnerable to climate change. Four of them (E. astur, M. unicolor, E. prevostii, and O. bernieri) were found vulnerable to the forest fragmentation during previous research. Combination of these two threats in the future could negatively affect these species in a drastic way. Climate change is expected to act differently on each species and it is important to incorporate complex ecological variables into species distribution models.