Prediction of the distribution of Arctic-nesting pink-footed geese under a warmer climate scenario

Authors

  • RIKKE A. JENSEN,

    1. Department of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, Frederiksborgvej 399, PO Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark,
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  • JESPER MADSEN,

    1. Department of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, Frederiksborgvej 399, PO Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark,
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  • MARK O'CONNELL,

    1. Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA2 7AY,
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    • 1Present address: Hartpury College, University of West England, GL19 3BE Gloucestershire, UK.

  • MARY S. WISZ,

    1. Department of Arctic Environment, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, Frederiksborgvej 399, PO Box 358, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark,
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  • HANS TØMMERVIK,

    1. Division of Arctic Ecology, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, The Polar Environmental Centre, N-9296 Tromsø, Norway,
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  • FRIDTJOF MEHLUM

    1. Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, PO Box 1172, Blindern, N-0318 Oslo, Norway
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    • 2Present address: Research Council of Norway, PO Box 2700, St Hanshaugen, N-0131 Oslo, Norway.


Rikke A. Jensen, tel. +45 46301940, fax +45 45301914, e-mail: raj@dmu.dk

Abstract

Global climate change is expected to shift species ranges polewards, with a risk of range contractions and population declines of especially high-Arctic species. We built species distribution models for Svalbard-nesting pink-footed geese to relate their occurrence to environmental and climatic variables, and used the models to predict their distribution under a warmer climate scenario. The most parsimonious model included mean May temperature, the number of frost-free months and the proportion of moist and wet moss-dominated vegetation in the area. The two climate variables are indicators for whether geese can physiologically fulfil the breeding cycle or not and the moss vegetation is an indicator of suitable feeding conditions. Projections of the distribution to warmer climate scenarios propose a large north- and eastward expansion of the potential breeding range on Svalbard even at modest temperature increases (1 and 2 °C increase in summer temperature, respectively). Contrary to recent suggestions regarding future distributions of Arctic wildlife, we predict that warming may lead to a further growth in population size of, at least some, Arctic breeding geese.

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