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Extinction risk in cloud forest fragments under climate change and habitat loss

This week Rocio Ponce presents her last paper published in Div & Dist. Well done! This research quantifies how climate and land use change, as major threats to biodiversity affect species persistence in Mexican cloud forests. To do this we estimated the extinction risk of three cloud forest endemic species with contrasting ‘requirements’: big vs. small home range, high vs. low dispersal rates, and high vs. low fecundity rates. This analysis was undertaken under different climate change scenarios and in three different regions of Mexico. The Mexican cloud forest is a highly fragmented habitat particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Using species distribution models (Maxent) we estimated the potential distribution of Mexican cloud forest for 2030, 2050 and 2080 and their overlap with protected areas. With an explicit patch-occupancy approximation model and calculating the joint probability of all populations becoming extinct (for when less than five patches remained) we calculated the extinction risk of the three species for two scenarios: climate change only and climate and land use change (we only considered the cloud forest suitable areas within a current protected area).

Our distribution models showed that the environmentally suitable areas for cloud forest in Mexico will decline sharply in the next 70 years. WheDSCN6715n climate change was the only factor considered as a habitat loss cause, then species with small home ranges were more likely to persist. However when we considered climate and land use change loss, species with high dispersal rates had more chances.

For more information (feel free to request a copy of the paper via email rocio.poncereyes@csiro.au):

Ponce-Reyes, R., Nicholson, E., Baxter, P.W.J., Fuller, R.A., Possingham, H. (2013) Extinction risk in cloud forest fragments under climate change and habitat loss. Diversity and Distributions 19, 518-529.

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