Get access

From climate change predictions to actions – conserving vulnerable animal groups in hotspots at a regional scale

Authors

  • SÍLVIA B. CARVALHO,

    1. CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do Porto, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
    2. Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
    3. The Ecology Centre, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • JOSÉ C. BRITO,

    1. CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do Porto, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author
  • EDUARDO J. CRESPO,

    1. Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
    2. CBA, Centro de Biologia Ambiental da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author
  • HUGH P. POSSINGHAM

    1. The Ecology Centre, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia
    2. The School of Maths and Physics, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author

S. B. Carvalho, CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do Porto, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal, tel. +351 252660416, fax +351 252661780, e-mail: silviacarvalho@mail.icav.up.pt

Abstract

Current climate change is a major threat to biodiversity. Species unable to adapt or move will face local or global extinction and this is more likely to happen to species with narrow climatic and habitat requirements and limited dispersal abilities, such as amphibians and reptiles. Biodiversity losses are likely to be greatest in global biodiversity hotspots where climate change is fast, such as the Iberian Peninsula. Here we assess the impact of climate change on 37 endemic and nearly endemic herptiles of the Iberian Peninsula by predicting species distributions for three different times into the future (2020, 2050 and 2080) using an ensemble of bioclimatic models and different combinations of species dispersal ability, emission levels and global circulation models. Our results show that species with Atlantic affinities that occur mainly in the North-western Iberian Peninsula have severely reduced future distributions. Up to 13 species may lose their entire potential distribution by 2080. Furthermore, our analysis indicates that the most critical period for the majority of these species will be the next decade. While there is considerable variability between the scenarios, we believe that our results provide a robust relative evaluation of climate change impacts among different species. Future evaluation of the vulnerability of individual species to climate change should account for their adaptive capacity to climate change, including factors such as physiological climate tolerance, geographical range size, local abundance, life cycle, behavioural and phenological adaptability, evolutionary potential and dispersal ability.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary