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Projected Climate Impacts for the Amphibians of the Western Hemisphere

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Abstract: 

Given their physiological requirements, limited dispersal abilities, and hydrologically sensitive habitats, amphibians are likely to be highly sensitive to future climatic changes. We used three approaches to map areas in the western hemisphere where amphibians are particularly likely to be affected by climate change. First, we used bioclimatic models to project potential climate-driven shifts in the distribution of 413 amphibian species based on 20 climate simulations for 2071–2100. We summarized these projections to produce estimates of species turnover. Second, we mapped the distribution of 1099 species with restricted geographic ranges. Finally, using the 20 future climate-change simulations, we mapped areas that were consistently projected to receive less seasonal precipitation in the coming century and thus were likely to have altered microclimates and local hydrologies. Species turnover was projected to be highest in the Andes Mountains and parts of Central America and Mexico, where, on average, turnover rates exceeded 60% under the lower of two emissions scenarios. Many of the restricted-range species not included in our range-shift analyses were concentrated in parts of the Andes and Central America and in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. Much of Central America, southwestern North America, and parts of South America were consistently projected to experience decreased precipitation by the end of the century. Combining the results of the three analyses highlighted several areas in which amphibians are likely to be significantly affected by climate change for multiple reasons. Portions of southern Central America were simultaneously projected to experience high species turnover, have many additional restricted-range species, and were consistently projected to receive less precipitation. Together, our three analyses form one potential assessment of the geographic vulnerability of amphibians to climate change and as such provide broad-scale guidance for directing conservation efforts.
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Keywords: amphibians; anfibios; bioclimatic models; cambio climático; cambios de distribución; climate change; climate impacts; dispersal; dispersión; especies raras; hemisferio occidental; impactos climáticos; modelos bioclimáticos; range shifts; rare species; western hemisphere

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Geological Survey, Corvallis, OR 97331, U.S.A. 2: College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105, U.S.A. 3: Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, U.S.A.

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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