Climate change threatens the most biodiverse regions of Mexico

Manuel Esperon-Rodriguez*, Linda J. Beaumont, Jonathan Lenoir, John B. Baumgartner, Jennifer McGowan, Alexander Correa-Metrio, James S. Camac

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Climate change threatens Earth's biodiversity, although its impacts are variable and depend on the capacity of species and ecosystems to cope with the magnitude and speed of change. Natural protected areas (NPAs) constitute potential refugia for species' persistence and for sustaining the provisioning of ecosystem services. Biosphere reserves are NPAs that are less altered by human actions and provide habitat to endemic, threatened or endangered species. Here, we aim to evaluate the threat imposed by climate change on the network of biosphere reserves in Mexico. Focusing on five bioclimatic variables, we computed the climatic space – measured as an n-dimensional hypervolume – of 40 NPAs. Increases in temperature are predicted for all NPAs by 2050, whereas decreases in annual rainfall are predicted for 30 NPAs. By 2050, 31 NPAs that provide habitat to 22,866 recorded species are predicted to lose 100% of their baseline climatic space, shifting to completely novel climates. On average, the other nine NPAs are predicted to lose 55.7% (SD = 26.7%) of their baseline climatic space, while 54.5% (SD = 32.5%) of the future climatic space will be novel. Seventeen NPAs may lose climate variability (homogenization), decreasing species' niches. The extent to which non-analogue conditions will remain within the tolerance of species and ecosystems is currently unknown. Finally, we propose a vulnerability index to categorise NPAs based on their loss of existing climatic space, total geographic area, species richness, and uniqueness of species composition, finding los Tuxtlas and Tiburon Ballena as the most and least vulnerable NPAs, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108215
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume240
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Biosphere reserves
  • Climate niche
  • Climatic space
  • Hypervolume
  • Natural protected areas
  • Vulnerability

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