A detailed understanding of species' responses to global climate change provides an informative baseline for designing conservation strategies to optimize protection of biodiversity. However, such information is either limited or not available for many tropical species, making it difficult to incorporate climate change into conservation planning for most tropical species. Here, we used correlative ecological niche models to assess potential distributional responses of 3 range-restricted West African birds, Timneh Parrot (Pscittacus erithracus timneh), Ballman's Malimbe (Malimbus ballmanni), and White-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus), to global climate change. We used primary biodiversity occurrence records for each species obtained from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, eBird, and VertNet; for environmental data, we used climatic variables for the present and future, the latter characterized by 2 IPCC representative concentration pathways (4.5, 8.5) future emissions scenarios and 27 general circulation models for a 2050 time horizon. We found broad present–day potential distributions with respect to climate for all 3 species. Future potential distributions for Ballman's Malimbe and White-necked Rockfowl tended to be stable and closely similar to their present-day distributions; by contrast, we found marked climate change–driven potential range loss across the range of Timneh Parrot. Our results suggest that impacts of climate change on the present distributions of West African birds will in some cases be minimal, but that individual species may respond differently to future conditions. Thus, to optimize conservation of these species, and of bird diversity in general, we recommend that regional-to-national species conservation action plans incorporate climate change adaptation strategies for individual species; ecological niche models could provide an informative baseline information for this planning and prioritization.
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Vol. 121 • No. 2