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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52574. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052574. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Future climate change will favour non-specialist mammals in the (sub)arctics.

Author information

1
Landscape Ecology Group, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. Anouschka.Hof@emg.umu.se

Abstract

Arctic and subarctic (i.e., [sub]arctic) ecosystems are predicted to be particularly susceptible to climate change. The area of tundra is expected to decrease and temperate climates will extend further north, affecting species inhabiting northern environments. Consequently, species at high latitudes should be especially susceptible to climate change, likely experiencing significant range contractions. Contrary to these expectations, our modelling of species distributions suggests that predicted climate change up to 2080 will favour most mammals presently inhabiting (sub)arctic Europe. Assuming full dispersal ability, most species will benefit from climate change, except for a few cold-climate specialists. However, most resident species will contract their ranges if they are not able to track their climatic niches, but no species is predicted to go extinct. If climate would change far beyond current predictions, however, species might disappear. The reason for the relative stability of mammalian presence might be that arctic regions have experienced large climatic shifts in the past, filtering out sensitive and range-restricted taxa. We also provide evidence that for most (sub)arctic mammals it is not climate change per se that will threaten them, but possible constraints on their dispersal ability and changes in community composition. Such impacts of future changes in species communities should receive more attention in literature.

PMID:
23285098
PMCID:
PMC3527567
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0052574
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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