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Water 2016, 8(8), 327;

Elevational Shifts of Freshwater Communities Cannot Catch up Climate Warming in the Himalaya

State Key Laboratory of Freshwater Ecology and Biotechnology, Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430072, China
International Union of Nature Conservation, Kupondole Road 162, Lalitpur, Kathmandu 44700, Nepal
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt am Main 60325, Germany
Laboratory of Freshwater Ecosystem Assessment and Civilization, Department of Water Environment, Institute of Water Resource and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100038, China
Central Department of Environmental Science, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu 44618, Nepal
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Xing Fang, James Stoeckel and Kevin B. Strychar
Received: 15 May 2016 / Revised: 21 June 2016 / Accepted: 22 June 2016 / Published: 3 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change Effects on Freshwater Organisms and Ecosystems)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1665 KB, uploaded 3 August 2016]   |  


Climate warming threatens biodiversity at global, regional and local levels by causing irreversible changes to species populations and biological communities. The Himalayan region is highly vulnerable to climate warming. This calls for efficient environmental management strategies because biodiversity monitoring is costly, particularly for the developing countries of the Himalaya. Species distribution modeling (SDM) represents a tool that can be used to identify vulnerable areas where biodiversity monitoring and conservation are required most urgently and can be prioritized. Here, we investigated the potential present-day community compositions of river invertebrates in the central and eastern Himalayas and predicted changes in community compositions in future decades using SDMs. We then quantified the climate-induced range shifts of benthic invertebrates along the elevational gradient and tested whether the predicted community shift is fast enough to fully compensate for the projected climate warming. Our model predicts future increases in benthic invertebrate taxonomic richness. Further, projected community shifts are characterized by the movement of warm-dwellers to higher elevations and losses in cold-dwellers. The predicted model shows that benthic invertebrate communities would not be able to compensate climate warming through uphill migration and thus would accumulate climatic debts. Our findings suggest that the ongoing warming effect would cause continued elevational range shifts of mountain river communities. View Full-Text
Keywords: benthic invertebrate; climate warming; species distribution model; mountain; upward shift; community temperature index benthic invertebrate; climate warming; species distribution model; mountain; upward shift; community temperature index

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Li, F.; Shah, D.N.; Pauls, S.U.; Qu, X.; Cai, Q.; Tachamo Shah, R.D. Elevational Shifts of Freshwater Communities Cannot Catch up Climate Warming in the Himalaya. Water 2016, 8, 327.

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