Future projections for Mexican faunas under global climate change scenarios

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Abstract

Global climates are changing rapidly, with unexpected consequences1. Because elements of biodiversity respond intimately to climate as an important driving force of distributional limitation2, distributional shifts and biodiversity losses are expected3,4. Nevertheless, in spite of modelling efforts focused on single species2 or entire ecosystems5, a few preliminary surveys of fauna-wide effects6,7, and evidence of climate change-mediated shifts in several species8,9, the likely effects of climate change on species' distributions remain little known, and fauna-wide or community-level effects are almost completely unexplored6. Here, using a genetic algorithm and museum specimen occurrence data, we develop ecological niche models for 1,870 species occurring in Mexico and project them onto two climate surfaces modelled for 2055. Although extinctions and drastic range reductions are predicted to be relatively few, species turnover in some local communities is predicted to be high (>40% of species), suggesting that severe ecological perturbations may result.

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Figure 1: Example of analyses of effects of global climate change on a species' (Ortalis poliocephala) potential geographic distribution.
Figure 2
Figure 3: Modelled species turnover in biological communities (1,870 species) across Mexico.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. G. Navarro-Sigüenza, J. E. Llorente-Bousquets, A. M. Luis, I. Vargas and L. Oniate for assembling distributional data, C. Thomas for help and advice, and E. Martínez-Meyer, G. Jiménez-Casas, S. Egbert and K. P. Price for collaboration. This research was supported by the US National Science Foundation, and grants from CONACyT and DGAPA to J. Soberón and V. Sánchez-Cordero.

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Correspondence to A. Townsend Peterson.

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Peterson, A., Ortega-Huerta, M., Bartley, J. et al. Future projections for Mexican faunas under global climate change scenarios. Nature 416, 626–629 (2002) doi:10.1038/416626a

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