An integrative approach to assessing the potential impacts of climate change on the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey

Michelle Hang Gi Wong, Renqiang Li, Ming Xu, Yongcheng Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Species with distributions severely restricted and isolated by human-related factors are of a challenge to niche modelers. And for those species that have high dietary plasticity and tolerance to different climatic conditions, such as Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus bieti, possible impacts of climate change can be assessed by the species' ecology and the presence of migration barriers surrounding the current ranges. This study demonstrates an integrative approach for assessing the potential impacts of climate change on the distribution of a species not suitable for common niche models and its implications on species conservation. We first developed vegetation models using regional vegetation cover, and a combination of climatic, geographic and disturbance-related variables. The vegetation cover was simulated referring to the A1B climate change scenario for year 2050 and 2100. We then analyzed migration pressure faced by R. bieti based on simulated vegetation changes and the species' habitat preferences, and evaluated feasibility of range shift/expansion based on the presence of migration barriers around current group ranges. The results show that while the coverage of the most suitable habitat type (mixed forest) is expanding, regional forest cover is becoming increasingly fragmented. Four out of fifteen groups (G8-10, 12) of R. bieti are particularly vulnerable to climate change where habitat quality is reducing rapidly, while five of the groups (G8-12) have low adaptability to habitat change due to genetic isolation and limitations to range shift. This integrative approach offers a new and an important tool for evaluating potential impacts of climate change on highly adaptable but range-restricted species and is useful in guiding conservation practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume158
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Endangered species
  • Habitat quality
  • MaxEnt
  • Niche model
  • Rhinopithecus bieti

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