Why is the choice of future climate scenarios for species distribution modelling important?
Article first published online: 17 AUG 2008
© 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS
Volume 11, Issue 11, pages 1135–1146, November 2008
How to Cite
Beaumont, L. J., Hughes, L. and Pitman, A. J. (2008), Why is the choice of future climate scenarios for species distribution modelling important?. Ecology Letters, 11: 1135–1146. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01231.x
- Issue published online: 2 OCT 2008
- Article first published online: 17 AUG 2008
- Editor, Jane Hill Manuscript received 16 January 2008 First decision made 25 February 2008 Second decision made 10 June 2008 Manuscript accepted 9 July 2008
- Bioclimatic modelling;
- climate change;
- climate models;
- climate scenarios;
- emission scenarios;
- species distribution models;
Species distribution models (SDMs) are common tools for assessing the potential impact of climate change on species ranges. Uncertainty in SDM output occurs due to differences among alternate models, species characteristics and scenarios of future climate. While considerable effort is being devoted to identifying and quantifying the first two sources of variation, a greater understanding of climate scenarios and how they affect SDM output is also needed. Climate models are complex tools: variability occurs among alternate simulations, and no single ‘best’ model exists. The selection of climate scenarios for impacts assessments should not be undertaken arbitrarily - strengths and weakness of different climate models should be considered. In this paper, we provide bioclimatic modellers with an overview of emissions scenarios and climate models, discuss uncertainty surrounding projections of future climate and suggest steps that can be taken to reduce and communicate climate scenario-related uncertainty in assessments of future species responses to climate change.