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4 March 2015 Assessing potential effects of land use and climate change on mammal distributions in northern Thailand
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Abstract

Context. Tropical ecosystems are widely recognised for their high species richness and outstanding concentrations of rare and endemic species. Previous studies either focussed on the effects of deforestation or climate change, whereas studies on the combined effects of these two major threats are limited.

Aims. This research aimed to model current and future distributions of medium- to large-sized mammal species on the basis of different land-use and climate-change scenarios in 2050 and to assess whether the predicted effects of land-use change are greater than those of climate change and whether the combined effects of these drivers are greater than those of either individual driver.

Methods. The present article demonstrates a method for combining nationwide wildlife-inventory data, spatially explicit species-distribution models, current and predicted future bioclimatic variables, other biophysical factors and human disturbance to map distributions of mammal species on the basis of different land-use and climate-change scenarios and to assess the role of protected areas in conservation planning.

Key results. Seventeen medium- to large-sized mammal species were selected for modelling. Most selected species were predicted to lose suitable habitat if the remaining forest cover declines from the current level of 57% to 50% in 2050. The predicted effects of deforestation were stronger than the effects of climate change. When climate and land-use change were combined, the predicted impacts were more severe. Most species would lose suitable habitat and the average shift in species distribution was greater than 40%.

Conclusions. The predicted effects were positive for only a few species and negative for most species. Current and future centres of mammal-species richness were predicted in large and contiguous protected forests and the average contribution of existing and proposed protected areas in protecting the focal species will increase from 73% to 80% across all scenarios.

Implications. The present research advances the current understanding of the ecology of 17 medium- to large-sized mammal species with conservation relevance and the factors that affect their distributions at the landscape scale. In addition, the research demonstrated that spatially explicit models and protected areas are effective means to contribute to protection of mammal species in current and future land-use and climate-change scenarios.

© CSIRO 2014
Yongyut Trisurat, Budsabong Kanchanasaka, and Holger Kreft "Assessing potential effects of land use and climate change on mammal distributions in northern Thailand," Wildlife Research 41(6), 522-536, (4 March 2015). https://doi.org/10.1071/WR14171
Received: 24 February 2014; Accepted: 1 December 2014; Published: 4 March 2015
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