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Global warming, habitat shifts and potential refugia for biodiversity conservation in the neotropical Guayana Highlands

Global warming, habitat shifts and potential refugia for biodiversity conservation in the neotropical Guayana Highlands
Global warming, habitat shifts and potential refugia for biodiversity conservation in the neotropical Guayana Highlands

Current global average temperatures are 2. °C cooler than during the last interglacial period. The expected increase in temperature during the 21st century will be most stressful for cold-adapted and stenothermic mountain species, forcing them to migrate upwards, and eventually to concentrate into either large areas with favourable climates (refugia) or small stands under locally favourable microclimates (microrefugia). We investigate potential refugia in the neotropical Guayana Highlands mountain biome (Pantepui), consisting of ~50 isolated table mountains (tepuis), to develop strategies for conserving biodiversity during future global warming. We predict the amount of loss of altitudinal habitats of endemic vascular flora of 26 tepuis and evaluate potential threats to these taxa with respect to species extinction, habitat loss, habitat connectivity and the degree of isolation. We compare past, present and future Pantepui landscape configurations through fragmentation analysis and identify potential in situ refugia. Spatial analysis forecasts more species isolation and declining biodiversity at the end of this century relative to current and past levels. Habitats are predicted to experience >80% loss, with the disappearance of 38 habitat patches. One large patch (Chimantá massif) accounts for 46% of the predicted remaining habitat. This patch can be considered a potential refugium for future vascular flora, as it is predicted to contain some present-day resistant species from lower altitudinal levels and other species eventually persisting in microrefugia. The easternmost Pantepui district, containing the Chimantá massif and other tepuis, seems to be the most suitable for the application of in situ conservation strategies.

Conservation, Extinction, Fragmentation, Habitat loss, Microrefugia, Neotropics, Refugia, Venezuelan Guayana
0006-3207
159-168
Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa
f1a5df04-58b9-4d16-823c-47c193f63f01
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021
Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa
f1a5df04-58b9-4d16-823c-47c193f63f01
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Rull, Valentí
afd31aba-0540-4788-abea-f5f9e3ec3021

Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa, Nogué, Sandra and Rull, Valentí (2012) Global warming, habitat shifts and potential refugia for biodiversity conservation in the neotropical Guayana Highlands. Biological Conservation, 152, 159-168. (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2012.03.036).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Current global average temperatures are 2. °C cooler than during the last interglacial period. The expected increase in temperature during the 21st century will be most stressful for cold-adapted and stenothermic mountain species, forcing them to migrate upwards, and eventually to concentrate into either large areas with favourable climates (refugia) or small stands under locally favourable microclimates (microrefugia). We investigate potential refugia in the neotropical Guayana Highlands mountain biome (Pantepui), consisting of ~50 isolated table mountains (tepuis), to develop strategies for conserving biodiversity during future global warming. We predict the amount of loss of altitudinal habitats of endemic vascular flora of 26 tepuis and evaluate potential threats to these taxa with respect to species extinction, habitat loss, habitat connectivity and the degree of isolation. We compare past, present and future Pantepui landscape configurations through fragmentation analysis and identify potential in situ refugia. Spatial analysis forecasts more species isolation and declining biodiversity at the end of this century relative to current and past levels. Habitats are predicted to experience >80% loss, with the disappearance of 38 habitat patches. One large patch (Chimantá massif) accounts for 46% of the predicted remaining habitat. This patch can be considered a potential refugium for future vascular flora, as it is predicted to contain some present-day resistant species from lower altitudinal levels and other species eventually persisting in microrefugia. The easternmost Pantepui district, containing the Chimantá massif and other tepuis, seems to be the most suitable for the application of in situ conservation strategies.

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More information

Published date: 1 August 2012
Keywords: Conservation, Extinction, Fragmentation, Habitat loss, Microrefugia, Neotropics, Refugia, Venezuelan Guayana

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445905
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445905
ISSN: 0006-3207
PURE UUID: 3f7e460d-72e5-4ea5-bd28-ae69d5b3c2a3
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Jan 2021 17:31
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:25

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Contributors

Author: Teresa Vegas-Vilarrúbia
Author: Sandra Nogué ORCID iD
Author: Valentí Rull

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