Influence of adaptive capacity on the outcome of climate change vulnerability assessment

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Abstract

Climate change vulnerability assessment (CCVA) has become a mainstay conservation decision support tool. CCVAs are recommended to incorporate three elements of vulnerability – exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity – yet, lack of data frequently leads to the latter being excluded. Further, weighted or unweighted scoring schemes, based on expert opinion, may be applied. Comparisons of these approaches are rare. In a CCVA for 17 Australian lizard species, we show that membership within three vulnerability categories (low, medium and high) generally remained similar regardless of the framework or scoring scheme. There was one exception however, where, under the warm/dry scenario for 2070, including adaptive capacity lead to five fewer species being classified as highly vulnerable. Two species, Eulamprus leuraensis and E. kosciuskoi, were consistently ranked the most vulnerable, primarily due to projected losses in climatically suitable habitat, narrow thermal tolerance and specialist habitat requirements. Our findings provide relevant information for prioritizing target species for conservation and choosing appropriate conservation actions. We conclude that for the species included in this study, the framework and scoring scheme used had little impact on the identification of the most vulnerable species. We caution, however, that this outcome may not apply to other taxa or regions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12979
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2017

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Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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