Koprowski, J. L., S. L. Doumas, M. J. Merrick, B. Oleson, E. E. Posthumus, T. G. Jessen, and R. N. Gwinn. 2013. It's lonely at the top: Biodiversity at risk to loss from climate change. In Gottfried, Gerald J.; Ffolliott, Peter F.; Gebow, Brooke S.; Eskew


John L. Koprowski
Sandra L. Doumas
Melissa J. Merrick
Brittany Oleson
Erin E. Posthumus
Timothy G. Jessen
R. Nathan Gwinn

Climate change is a serious immediate and long-term threat to wildlife species. State and federal agencies are working with universities and non-government organizations to predict, plan for, and mitigate such uncertainties in the future. Endemic species may be particularly at-risk as climate-induced changes impact their limited geographic ranges. The Madrean Archipelago is characterized by high levels of endemism, natural fragmentation, and increasingly poor connectivity among the mesic montane islands within an arid matrix of low elevation deserts and grasslands. The region already has experienced an increase in temperature and this trend is predicted to accelerate over the remainder of the century. We assessed patterns of elevational distribution of reptiles and mammals within the Madrean Archipelago. We examined incremental temperature increases and determined how much reptilian and mammalian biodiversity is at-risk to be lost from montane islands due to elevational and geographic restriction. We estimate that 15 to 20% of all reptile and mammal diversity is at risk of loss by 2100 based solely on predicted patterns of upslope migration of biotic communities driven primarily by climate change. With this significant proportion of native species, we suggest that this emphasizes the need to continue traditional management actions focused on habitat improvement, restoration and connectivity for the majority of species in combination with innovative and active management strategies directed at the subset that is most at risk of extirpation.


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