Continental-Scale Assessment of Risk to the Australian Odonata from Climate Change

Bush, Alex A. and Nipperess, David A. and Duursma, Daisy E. and Theischinger, Gunther and Turak, Eren and Hughes, Lesley (2014) Continental-Scale Assessment of Risk to the Australian Odonata from Climate Change. PLoS ONE, 9 (2). ISSN 1932-6203

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Climate change is expected to have substantial impacts on the composition of freshwater communities, and many species are threatened by the loss of climatically suitable habitat. In this study we identify Australian Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) vulnerable to the effects of climate change on the basis of exposure, sensitivity and pressure to disperse in the future. We used an ensemble of species distribution models to predict the distribution of 270 (85%) species of Australian Odonata, continent-wide at the subcatchment scale, and for both current and future climates using two emissions scenarios each for 2055 and 2085. Exposure was scored according to the departure of temperature, precipitation and hydrology from current conditions. Sensitivity accounted for change in the area and suitability of projected climatic habitat, and pressure to disperse combined measurements of average habitat shifts and the loss experienced with lower dispersal rates. Streams and rivers important to future conservation efforts were identified based on the sensitivity-weighted sum of habitat suitability for the most vulnerable species. The overall extent of suitable habitat declined for 56–69% of the species modelled by 2085 depending on emissions scenario. The proportion of species at risk across all components (exposure, sensitivity, pressure to disperse) varied between 7 and 17% from 2055 to 2085 and a further 3–17% of species were also projected to be at high risk due to declines that did not require range shifts. If dispersal to Tasmania was limited, many south-eastern species are at significantly increased risk. Conservation efforts will need to focus on creating and preserving freshwater refugia as part of a broader conservation strategy that improves connectivity and promotes adaptive range shifts. The significant predicted shifts in suitable habitat could potentially exceed the dispersal capacity of Odonata and highlights the challenge faced by other freshwater species.

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22 Apr 2019 15:30
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22 Nov 2022 07:24