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Effects of Climate Change on Habitat Availability and Configuration for an Endemic Coastal Alpine Bird.

Jackson MM, Gergel SE, Martin K - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Habitat patches are predicted to become fragmented, with a 52-79% reduction in mean patch size.Much will depend on their ability to move throughout a more heterogeneous landscape, utilize smaller breeding areas, and survive increasingly variable climate extremes.Our results emphasize the importance of continued monitoring and protection for high elevation specialist species, and suggest that White-tailed Ptarmigan should be considered an indicator species for alpine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.

ABSTRACT
North America's coastal mountains are particularly vulnerable to climate change, yet harbour a number of endemic species. With little room "at the top" to track shifting climate envelopes, alpine species may be especially negatively affected by climate-induced habitat fragmentation. We ask how climate change will affect the total amount, mean patch size, and number of patches of suitable habitat for Vancouver Island White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura saxatilis; VIWTP), a threatened, endemic alpine bird. Using a Random Forest model and a unique dataset consisting of citizen science observations combined with field surveys, we predict the distribution and configuration of potential suitable summer habitat for VIWTP under baseline and future (2020s, 2050s, and 2080s) climates using three general circulation models and two greenhouse gas scenarios. VIWTP summer habitat is predicted to decline by an average of 25%, 44%, and 56% by the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s, respectively, under the low greenhouse gas scenario and 27%, 59%, and 74% under the high scenario. Habitat patches are predicted to become fragmented, with a 52-79% reduction in mean patch size. The average elevation of suitable habitat patches is expected to increase, reflecting a loss of patches at lower elevations. Thus ptarmigan are in danger of being "squeezed off the mountain", as their remaining suitable habitat will be increasingly confined to mountaintops in the center of the island. The extent to which ptarmigan will be able to persist in increasingly fragmented habitat is unclear. Much will depend on their ability to move throughout a more heterogeneous landscape, utilize smaller breeding areas, and survive increasingly variable climate extremes. Our results emphasize the importance of continued monitoring and protection for high elevation specialist species, and suggest that White-tailed Ptarmigan should be considered an indicator species for alpine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Number (a) and mean size (b) of suitable ptarmigan habitat patches under baseline climate (1980–2010 normals) and by the 2020s (2025), 2050s (2055), and 2080s (2085).Future values represent averages across three general circulation models: CanESM2 (Can), CCSM4 (CCSM), and GFDL-CM3 (GFDL), and are presented for two IPCC greenhouse gas concentration scenarios: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. Error bars represent 1 SE.
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pone.0142110.g007: Number (a) and mean size (b) of suitable ptarmigan habitat patches under baseline climate (1980–2010 normals) and by the 2020s (2025), 2050s (2055), and 2080s (2085).Future values represent averages across three general circulation models: CanESM2 (Can), CCSM4 (CCSM), and GFDL-CM3 (GFDL), and are presented for two IPCC greenhouse gas concentration scenarios: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. Error bars represent 1 SE.

Mentions: Number of patches is predicted to decline by the 2020s followed by an increase by the 2080s under both greenhouse gas scenarios (Fig 7). This increase in number of patches corresponds with a 52% reduction in mean patch size from 6.6 km2 to 3.2 (± 0.03) km2 under the RCP 4.5 scenario and a 79% reduction in mean patch size to 1.4 (± 0.01) km2 under the RCP 8.5 scenario by the 2080s. Currently large patches such as those in the Forbidden Plateau, southeast Strathcona Park (Fig 5), are predicted to become fragmented into several smaller patches. In particular, the three currently largest patches of suitable habitat are predicted to become fragmented into several smaller patches by the 2080s (Fig 8). The largest patch by the 2080s accounts for 25–29% of the predicted remaining habitat area under the RCP 4.5 scenario and 5–9% of predicted remaining habitat area under the RCP 8.5 scenario. The Can GCM and RCP 8.5 greenhouse gas scenario depict the most dire predictions of habitat change for White-tailed Ptarmigan, with total loss of all habitat patches larger than 6 km2 and 97% of all remaining habitat patches < 1 km2. Average elevation of suitable habitat patches is predicted to increase from 1,350 m (± 84) under the baseline climate to 1,459–1,472 m under the RCP 4.5 scenario and 1,501–1,508 m under the RCP 8.5 scenario by the 2080s (Fig 9).


Effects of Climate Change on Habitat Availability and Configuration for an Endemic Coastal Alpine Bird.

Jackson MM, Gergel SE, Martin K - PLoS ONE (2015)

Number (a) and mean size (b) of suitable ptarmigan habitat patches under baseline climate (1980–2010 normals) and by the 2020s (2025), 2050s (2055), and 2080s (2085).Future values represent averages across three general circulation models: CanESM2 (Can), CCSM4 (CCSM), and GFDL-CM3 (GFDL), and are presented for two IPCC greenhouse gas concentration scenarios: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. Error bars represent 1 SE.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4631505&req=5

pone.0142110.g007: Number (a) and mean size (b) of suitable ptarmigan habitat patches under baseline climate (1980–2010 normals) and by the 2020s (2025), 2050s (2055), and 2080s (2085).Future values represent averages across three general circulation models: CanESM2 (Can), CCSM4 (CCSM), and GFDL-CM3 (GFDL), and are presented for two IPCC greenhouse gas concentration scenarios: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5. Error bars represent 1 SE.
Mentions: Number of patches is predicted to decline by the 2020s followed by an increase by the 2080s under both greenhouse gas scenarios (Fig 7). This increase in number of patches corresponds with a 52% reduction in mean patch size from 6.6 km2 to 3.2 (± 0.03) km2 under the RCP 4.5 scenario and a 79% reduction in mean patch size to 1.4 (± 0.01) km2 under the RCP 8.5 scenario by the 2080s. Currently large patches such as those in the Forbidden Plateau, southeast Strathcona Park (Fig 5), are predicted to become fragmented into several smaller patches. In particular, the three currently largest patches of suitable habitat are predicted to become fragmented into several smaller patches by the 2080s (Fig 8). The largest patch by the 2080s accounts for 25–29% of the predicted remaining habitat area under the RCP 4.5 scenario and 5–9% of predicted remaining habitat area under the RCP 8.5 scenario. The Can GCM and RCP 8.5 greenhouse gas scenario depict the most dire predictions of habitat change for White-tailed Ptarmigan, with total loss of all habitat patches larger than 6 km2 and 97% of all remaining habitat patches < 1 km2. Average elevation of suitable habitat patches is predicted to increase from 1,350 m (± 84) under the baseline climate to 1,459–1,472 m under the RCP 4.5 scenario and 1,501–1,508 m under the RCP 8.5 scenario by the 2080s (Fig 9).

Bottom Line: Habitat patches are predicted to become fragmented, with a 52-79% reduction in mean patch size.Much will depend on their ability to move throughout a more heterogeneous landscape, utilize smaller breeding areas, and survive increasingly variable climate extremes.Our results emphasize the importance of continued monitoring and protection for high elevation specialist species, and suggest that White-tailed Ptarmigan should be considered an indicator species for alpine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada.

ABSTRACT
North America's coastal mountains are particularly vulnerable to climate change, yet harbour a number of endemic species. With little room "at the top" to track shifting climate envelopes, alpine species may be especially negatively affected by climate-induced habitat fragmentation. We ask how climate change will affect the total amount, mean patch size, and number of patches of suitable habitat for Vancouver Island White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura saxatilis; VIWTP), a threatened, endemic alpine bird. Using a Random Forest model and a unique dataset consisting of citizen science observations combined with field surveys, we predict the distribution and configuration of potential suitable summer habitat for VIWTP under baseline and future (2020s, 2050s, and 2080s) climates using three general circulation models and two greenhouse gas scenarios. VIWTP summer habitat is predicted to decline by an average of 25%, 44%, and 56% by the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s, respectively, under the low greenhouse gas scenario and 27%, 59%, and 74% under the high scenario. Habitat patches are predicted to become fragmented, with a 52-79% reduction in mean patch size. The average elevation of suitable habitat patches is expected to increase, reflecting a loss of patches at lower elevations. Thus ptarmigan are in danger of being "squeezed off the mountain", as their remaining suitable habitat will be increasingly confined to mountaintops in the center of the island. The extent to which ptarmigan will be able to persist in increasingly fragmented habitat is unclear. Much will depend on their ability to move throughout a more heterogeneous landscape, utilize smaller breeding areas, and survive increasingly variable climate extremes. Our results emphasize the importance of continued monitoring and protection for high elevation specialist species, and suggest that White-tailed Ptarmigan should be considered an indicator species for alpine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus