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Diversity 2015, 7(4), 342-359; doi:10.3390/d7040342

Predicting Future European Breeding Distributions of British Seabird Species under Climate Change and Unlimited/No Dispersal Scenarios

1
School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
2
Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 8LB, UK
3
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh EH26 0QB, UK
4
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tom Oliver
Received: 13 August 2015 / Revised: 19 October 2015 / Accepted: 20 October 2015 / Published: 2 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Global Change)
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Abstract

Understanding which traits make species vulnerable to climatic change and predicting future distributions permits conservation efforts to be focused on the most vulnerable species and the most appropriate sites. Here, we combine climate envelope models with predicted bioclimatic data from two emission scenarios leading up to 2100, to predict European breeding distributions of 23 seabird species that currently breed in the British Isles. Assuming unlimited dispersal, some species would be “winners” (increase the size of their range), but over 65% would lose range, some by up to 80%. These “losers” have a high vulnerability to low prey availability, and a northerly distribution meaning they would lack space to move into. Under the worst-case scenario of no dispersal, species are predicted to lose between 25% and 100% of their range, so dispersal ability is a key constraint on future range sizes. More globally, the results indicate, based on foraging ecology, which seabird species are likely to be most affected by climatic change. Neither of the emissions scenarios used in this study is extreme, yet they generate very different predictions for some species, illustrating that even small decreases in emissions could yield large benefits for conservation. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate envelope modelling; climate response surface; conservation; ecological niche modelling; extinction risk; foraging ecology; global warming; marine spatial planning; sea surface temperature; species distribution models climate envelope modelling; climate response surface; conservation; ecological niche modelling; extinction risk; foraging ecology; global warming; marine spatial planning; sea surface temperature; species distribution models
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Russell, D.J.; Wanless, S.; Collingham, Y.C.; Huntley, B.; Hamer, K.C. Predicting Future European Breeding Distributions of British Seabird Species under Climate Change and Unlimited/No Dispersal Scenarios. Diversity 2015, 7, 342-359.

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