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PLoS One. 2009 Sep 2;4(9):e6825. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006825.

Re-shuffling of species with climate disruption: a no-analog future for California birds?

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  • 1PRBO Conservation Science, Petaluma, California, USA. dstralberg@prbo.org

Abstract

By facilitating independent shifts in species' distributions, climate disruption may result in the rapid development of novel species assemblages that challenge the capacity of species to co-exist and adapt. We used a multivariate approach borrowed from paleoecology to quantify the potential change in California terrestrial breeding bird communities based on current and future species-distribution models for 60 focal species. Projections of future no-analog communities based on two climate models and two species-distribution-model algorithms indicate that by 2070 over half of California could be occupied by novel assemblages of bird species, implying the potential for dramatic community reshuffling and altered patterns of species interactions. The expected percentage of no-analog bird communities was dependent on the community scale examined, but consistent geographic patterns indicated several locations that are particularly likely to host novel bird communities in the future. These no-analog areas did not always coincide with areas of greatest projected species turnover. Efforts to conserve and manage biodiversity could be substantially improved by considering not just future changes in the distribution of individual species, but including the potential for unprecedented changes in community composition and unanticipated consequences of novel species assemblages.

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