Future Habitats for Two Colorful Birds in a Changing Climate

Jenn Hoskins
22nd June, 2024

Future Habitats for Two Colorful Birds in a Changing Climate

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on predicting future habitats for two bird species, T. ruspolii and T. leucotis, in Ethiopia using the MaxEnt algorithm
  • T. ruspolii is expected to gain suitable habitat in the future, expanding its range significantly by 2050 and 2070
  • T. leucotis, however, is predicted to lose a substantial portion of its current suitable habitat by 2050 and 2070
Understanding how species distributions shift in response to climate change is crucial for effective conservation planning. A recent study conducted by Debre Markos University focused on two bird species in Ethiopia, Tauraco ruspolii and T. leucotis, aiming to predict their future range using the MaxEnt algorithm[1]. This study is particularly relevant given the significant impacts of climate change on species distributions worldwide[2]. The research utilized 25 and 29 occurrence points for T. ruspolii and T. leucotis, respectively, along with 13 environmental variables to model the current and future suitable habitats for these species. The MaxEnt algorithm, a popular tool for species distribution modeling, was employed to predict the potential ranges of these birds in the 2050s and 2070s. Three regularization multipliers and two cut-off thresholds were used to enhance the accuracy of the habitat suitability maps. The results were then combined to create composite maps, and the overlap in habitat suitability between the two species was analyzed using the UNION tool in a geographical information system. This study builds on earlier research that has shown how climate change drives species to shift their ranges. For example, tropical montane species have been observed to move upslope in response to rising temperatures, matching local temperature increases more closely than temperate-zone species[3]. Similarly, montane species in the Peruvian Andes have experienced range contractions and even local extinctions due to climate warming[4]. These studies highlight the broader trend of species responding to climate change by shifting their distributions, often leading to significant conservation challenges. The findings from Debre Markos University indicate that both T. ruspolii and T. leucotis are likely to experience shifts in their suitable habitats due to climate change. The predicted range shifts underscore the importance of identifying and protecting new suitable habitats to ensure the long-term survival of these species. This is particularly critical for range-restricted species like T. ruspolii, which are more vulnerable to habitat changes[2]. The use of the MaxEnt algorithm in this study provides a robust framework for predicting species distributions under future climate scenarios. By incorporating multiple environmental variables and adjusting for regularization, the researchers were able to produce detailed maps that offer valuable insights for conservation planning. The overlap analysis using the UNION tool further enhances our understanding of how these species might share or compete for habitats in the future. Overall, this study contributes to the growing body of evidence on the impacts of climate change on species distributions. It highlights the need for proactive conservation measures, such as habitat protection and possibly assisted migration, to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on vulnerable species. The findings also emphasize the importance of using advanced modeling techniques to inform conservation strategies and ensure the resilience of biodiversity in the face of ongoing climate change.



Main Study

1) Distribution and extent of suitable habitats of Ruspoli’s Turaco (Tauraco ruspolii) and White-cheeked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis) under a changing climate in Ethiopia

Published 21st June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Climatic change and extinction risk of two globally threatened Ethiopian endemic bird species.


3) Rapid upslope shifts in New Guinean birds illustrate strong distributional responses of tropical montane species to global warming.


4) Climate change causes upslope shifts and mountaintop extirpations in a tropical bird community.


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