Conservation options for range change facilitation under multiple global change threats

Timothy C. Bonebrake (1)

1 The University of Hong Kong, Kadoorie Biological Sciences Building, Hong Kong, tbone@hku.hk, @bonebraking

Species must overcome a variety of challenges in order to successfully shift their distributions in a changing climate. Not only must suitable habitats be available to disperse to but individuals must also be able to get to these available habitats. Here I highlight the utility of coupled species distribution and population models in assessing the value or obstacles of different conservation interventions for facilitating ranges changes under  warming.  Using  two  case  studies  (a  southern  California  rare  plant  and  an  endangered  Asian waterbird) I show that standard distribution models alone cannot well predict suitable future habitat for species with specialized life histories. However, coupling demography with distribution models can help determine suitability of sites as well as project extinction risk under future climates and additional environmental changes (e.g. fire frequency alterations and disease outbreaks). Protected areas are clearly an important tool for facilitating range change as they help to ensure suitable habitats exist for moving species.  But  non-climatic  factors  can  have  dominant  impacts  on  habitat  suitability  and  should  be considered as part of assessments of protected area effectiveness in facilitating range changes. Managed relocations can also be modelled in this framework and are shown to be effective in some circumstances. However, success will be maximized when multiple conservation interventions are considered as global change alters the future climates, habitats and environments that species depend upon for persistence.

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