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University of Liverpool (2015)

The impact of climate change on the distribution and conservation status of African antelopes

Payne, Benjamin

Titre : The impact of climate change on the distribution and conservation status of African antelopes

Auteur : Payne, Benjamin

Etablissement de soutenance : University of Liverpool.

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2015

Résumé partiel
Global biodiversity is under threat from multiple fronts. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment predicts that climate change (CC) will be the “dominant direct driver of biodiversity loss” by the end of the 21st century. This project studies the impact of CC on the distribution and conservation status of antelopes found in Africa. Africa is an area of high climate variability and high vulnerability to CC, and most of the world’s antelope species are native to the continent. Various threats are already causing the decline in 63% of antelope species with 26% being classified as threatened. Antelopes are a speciose and biologically diverse group and therefore provide an ideal opportunity to reveal more general patterns of the effect of CC across taxa. To assess the impact of climate change on Africa’s antelopes I use species distribution models (SDMs), based on climatic variables, to produce ensemble predictions of species distributions for 2080. Using the SDMs I also establish links between biological traits and the optimal climatic conditions for species. The ensemble predictions incorporate three climate models for three climate scenarios, and I predict the future distributions using three approaches. The first is a pessimistic representation of species’ distributions in a future where they are unable to disperse from their current range to track CC. The second, optimistic approach, permits species to disperse at a given rate based on body mass. Finally, the envelope approach presents a comparison of suitable climatic conditions, which are connected to the existing distribution, between now and the end of the century (i.e. not restricted by current distribution or dispersal). The results indicate that 81-85% of species (59-62 of 73) will exhibit a contraction in range based on suitable climatic conditions, and that the average contraction of those species is 39.4-50.1%. Up to six of 73 species are predicted to be without any climatically suitable areas in 2080 depending on the modelling and forecasting approach taken. Worryingly, there is also a disproportionate reduction in the predicted distribution of threatened antelope, whereas species with broader climatic niche and a preference for warmer temperatures typically perform better

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