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Keywords:

  • Africa;
  • climate change;
  • extinction risk;
  • IPCC storylines;
  • land transformation;
  • mammals;
  • national parks;
  • species distribution models

Abstract

Recent observations show that human-induced climate change (CC) and land transformation (LT) are threatening wildlife globally. Thus, there is a need to assess the sensitivity of wildlife on large spatial scales and evaluate whether national parks (NPs), a key conservation tools used to protect species, will meet their mandate under future CC and LT conditions. Here, we assess the sensitivity of 277 mammals at African scale to CC at 10′ resolution, using static LT assumptions in a ‘first-cut’ estimate, in the absence of credible future LT trends. We examine the relationship between species' current distribution and macroclimatic variables using generalized additive models, and include LT indirectly as a filter. Future projections are derived using two CC scenarios (for 2050 and 2080) to estimate the spatial patterns of loss and gain in species richness that might ultimately result. We then apply the IUCN Red List criteria A3(c) of potential range loss to evaluate species sensitivity. We finally estimate the sensitivity of 141 NPs in terms of both species richness and turnover. Assuming no spread of species, 10–15% of the species are projected to fall within the critically endangered or extinct categories by 2050 and between 25% and 40% by 2080. Assuming unlimited species spread, less extreme results show proportions dropping to approximately 10–20% by 2080. Spatial patterns of richness loss and gain show contrasting latitudinal patterns with a westward range shift of species around the species-rich equatorial zone in central Africa, and an eastward shift in southern Africa, mainly because of latitudinal aridity gradients across these ecological transition zones. Xeric shrubland NPs may face significant richness losses not compensated by species influxes. Other NPs might expect substantial losses and influxes of species. On balance, the NPs might ultimately realize a substantial shift in the mammalian species composition of a magnitude unprecedented in recent geological time. To conclude, the effects of global CC and LT on wildlife communities may be most noticeable not as a loss of species from their current ranges, but instead as a fundamental change in community composition.