Mr Luke Sutton1,2,3, Mr Sunil Kini3, Mr Raviraj Shah3, Dr Giovanni Leonardi3
1University Of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom, 2The Peregrine Fund, Boise, USA, 3Hierofalcon Research Group, Catania, Italy
In a rapidly changing environment, defining current and predicting future distributions, can help define priority areas for research on rare and threatened taxa. The Laggar Falcon (Falco jugger) is a rare and poorly-studied raptor resident across the Indian sub-continent, categorized as Near-Threatened, with populations potentially in rapid decline. Using a Species Distribution Modelling framework, with presence-only data and eight bioclimatic variables, we update current distribution, and predict future distribution based on two future climate change scenarios for 2050. Our current distribution model had high predictive accuracy, and defined core areas of high climatic suitability in western India and south-east Pakistan, capturing the spatial complexity in the distribution of this raptor. Three bioclimatic variables contributed 79.83% to model prediction: mean temperature of the wettest quarter (50.08%), precipitation seasonality (17.56%), and precipitation in the driest month (12.19%). Projecting our model into a lower emissions climate change scenario for 2050 resulted in up to 6% mean gain in suitable climate space, but a 5% mean loss in suitable climate by 2050 in a high emissions scenario. All future predictive models showed similar multi-directional range movements, within the current predicted core range. Based on these results, Laggar Falcon distribution may not be adversely affected by climate change. We recommend directed population surveys based on our current model predictions to areas of highest climate suitability, which are likely to be where Laggars will persist into the near future. Further research will enhance our knowledge for this raptor, whilst contributing data to improve our model predictions.
Luke Sutton is a raptor biologist and biogeographer interested in how apex predators function in ecosystems and spatio-temporal patterns of raptor distributions. He is particularly interested in using spatial models to identify unknown populations of endangered raptors, and to assess the potential impact of climate change on raptor distributions.