Predictions to inform conservation planning in Alaska

This study uses GBIF-mediated occurrences to create bioclimatic distribution models of 17 small mammals across Alaska, predicting that biodiversity hotspots in general will shift northward, inland, and upward.

Root vole (Microtus oeconomus) in Alaska, photo courtesy of Andy Baltensperger

Root vole (Microtus oeconomus) in Alaska, photo courtesy of Andy Baltensperger

This study uses GBIF-mediated occurrences to create bioclimatic distribution models of 17 small mammals across Alaska. Combining the models with climate scenarios for the year 2100, the researchers predicted an average loss of suitable habitat of about 20 per cent and a northward shift of 111 km for species living in cold-climate, northern and interior regions. Species in the continental and southern regions, however, are to gain on average about 30 per cent more habitat. Their shifts are mixed with about half moving north and the other half moving south. The study predicts that Alaskan biodiversity hotspots in general will shift northward, inland, and upward—critical findings for future management strategies that also highlight the significance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to halt climate change.

Citations

Baltensperger, A. P., & Huettmann, F. (2015). Predicted Shifts in Small Mammal Distributions and Biodiversity in the Altered Future Environment of Alaska: An Open Access Data and Machine Learning Perspective. PloS One, 10(7), e0132054. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132054

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