Land-use change interacts with climate to determine elevational species redistribution

Ms Fengyi Guo1,2, Dr. Jonathan  Lenoir3, Dr. Timothy  Bonebrake1

1University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China, 2Princeton University, Princeton, United States, 3UR “Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés” (EDYSAN, UMR 7058 CNRS-UPJV), Amiens, France

Climate change is driving global species redistribution across latitude, elevation, and depth with profound social and economic impacts. However, small-scale species movement along elevational gradients could be largely constrained by local habitat availability and connectivity, of which the interaction effects with climate remain largely unknown. Here we examine published data on 2798 elevational range shifts from 43 study sites globally to assess the confounding effect of land-use change on climate-driven species redistribution. Making use of high-resolution forest and climate datasets, we performed our analyses at both site and species levels through ordinary least-square (OLS) regressions and linear mixed effect models (LMMs). We show that in addition to temperature, both baseline forest cover and recent forest cover change are critical predictors in determining the rate of elevational range shifts. Forest loss positively interacts with baseline temperature at the site level, such that deforestation in warmer regions tends to further accelerate species’ upslope movements. Consequently, not only climate but also habitat loss stressors and, importantly, their synergistic effects matter in forecasting species elevational redistribution. Conservation planning and management should therefore consider such interactions especially in the tropics, where both warm temperature conditions and contemporary deforestation will increase the risk of net lowland biotic attrition.


Fengyi Guo was a MPhil student at HKU when conducting the presented project. She is now pursuing her PhD degree in Ecology at Princeton University, with general research interests in global change ecology and conservation.

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