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Integr Comp Biol. 2004 Apr;44(2):152-62. doi: 10.1093/icb/44.2.152.

Bioenergetic prediction of climate change impacts on northern mammals.

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  • 1Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Macdonald Campus, McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9, Canada.


Climate change will likely alter the distribution and abundance of northern mammals through a combination of direct, abiotic effects (e.g., changes in temperature and precipitation) and indirect, biotic effects (e.g., changes in the abundance of resources, competitors, and predators). Bioenergetic approaches are ideally suited to predicting the impacts of climate change because individual energy budgets integrate biotic and abiotic influences, and translate individual function into population and community outcomes. In this review, we illustrate how bioenergetics can be used to predict the regional biodiversity, species range limits, and community trophic organization of mammals under future climate scenarios. Although reliable prediction of climate change impacts for particular species requires better data and theory on the physiological ecology of northern mammals, two robust hypotheses emerge from the bioenergetic approaches presented here. First, the impacts of climate change in northern regions will be shaped by the appearance of new species at least as much as by the disappearance of current species. Second, seasonally inactive mammal species (e.g., hibernators), which are largely absent from the Canadian arctic at present, should undergo substantial increases in abundance and distribution in response to climate change, probably at the expense of continuously active mammals already present in the arctic.

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