Future Climate Change Will Favour Non-Specialist Mammals in the (Sub)Arctics

Anouschka R. Hof*, Roland Jansson, Christer Nilsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52574
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

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