Ratufa bicolor is a diurnal, arboreal, and herbivorous rodent occurs mainly in evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of north-eastern India and known to be one of the forest health indicator species. The present study was conducted to enumerate the climatic factors governing the distribution of R. bicolor in its habitat range in India and their climatic refuge in the middle of the 21st century, based on the approach of Species Distribution Modeling (SDM). Currently, 56.62% area of the distributional range of R. bicolor in India is unsuitable and with only 43.38% area as favorable for the species. With changing climate by 2050, only 2.94% area of the present range of R. bicolor will remain suitable habitat and remaining 97.06% area will become unsuitable for the species and by then, the species will lose more than 90% of its distribution range gaining only 1.45% area as newly suitable habitat in India. Thus, suitable conservation and management strategies need to be developed to save this species which will be on the verge of extinction in the wild at least locally including ex-situ conservation techniques or conservation breeding programs that may be initiated for protecting this squirrel species from north-eastern India.
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Vol. 45 • No. 4