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Endangered species management and climate change: When habitat conservation becomes a moving target

Wilkening, J and Pearson-Prestera, W and Mungi, NA and Bhattacharyya, S (2019) Endangered species management and climate change: When habitat conservation becomes a moving target. In: Wildlife Society Bulletin, 43 (1). pp. 11-20.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.944


As climate conditions continue to shift, species assemblages and composition within ecological communities may be reshuffled in unpredictable ways. Some habitat types may cease to exist while others may expand in size; protecting ecosystems and species in their current locations will become increasingly difficult. Threatened and endangered species are likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change because they are often habitat specialists and relatively rare. In the United States, the 1973 Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of many species. The identification and conservation of critical habitat is an important tool for species preservation. But how do we designate and preserve habitat for protected species when we are unsure about future habitat conditions? We address this question based upon the concept of managing for anticipated change, rather than focusing on the maintenance of existing conditions. We used an ecological niche modeling program (MaxEnt) to model current and future climatic niche for an endangered mammal endemic to southern California, USA; the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (SKR, Dipodomys stephensi). Our results indicate that the climatic niche of SKR was governed primarily by precipitation during the dry season, precipitation seasonality, annual mean temperature, and mean summer temperature. Projecting current species-presence relationships to different scenarios predicted for the future revealed substantial loss in climatic niche with increased emission rates. Areas of future suitable climatic niche were evaluated in relation to land ownership and identified as potential reserves or translocation sites, which can aid in conservation planning for this species. Additionally, species vulnerability assessments and a climate-change analysis tool were utilized to demonstrate how overall understanding of climate change effects can be enhanced. Information presented here can serve as guiding principles for the inclusion of climate change considerations into management plans, and can better inform overall decision-making related to endangered species management. © 2019 The Wildlife Society.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Wildlife Society Bulletin
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to Wiley-Blackwell
Keywords: climate change; conservation planning; decision making; endangered species; Endangered Species Act; habitat conservation; habitat type; landownership; rodent; software; vulnerability, California; United States, Dipodomys; Dipodomys stephensi; Mammalia
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2022 04:29
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2022 04:29
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/78314

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