Improving the Use of Species Distribution Models in Conservation Planning and Management under Climate Change
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Choice of variables, climate models and emissions scenarios all influence the results of species distribution models under future climatic conditions. However, an overview of applied studies suggests that the uncertainty associated with these factors is not always appropriately incorporated or even considered. We examine the effects of choice of variables, climate models and emissions scenarios can have on future species distribution models using two endangered species: one a short-lived invertebrate species (Ptunarra Brown Butterfly), and the other a long-lived paleo-endemic tree species (King Billy Pine). We show the range in projected distributions that result from different variable selection, climate models and emissions scenarios. The extent to which results are affected by these choices depends on the characteristics of the species modelled, but they all have the potential to substantially alter conclusions about the impacts of climate change. We discuss implications for conservation planning and management, and provide recommendations to conservation practitioners on variable selection and accommodating uncertainty when using future climate projections in species distribution models.
© 2014 Porfirio et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License CCAL. (http://www.plos.org/journals/license.html)
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified