Due South: a first assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on Cape vulture occurrence

Phipps, W.L., Diekmann, M., MacTavish, L.M., Mendelsohn, J.M., Naidoo, V., Wolter, K. and Yarnell, R.W. ORCID: 0000-0001-6584-7374, 2017. Due South: a first assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on Cape vulture occurrence. Biological Conservation, 210, pp. 16-25. ISSN 0006-3207

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Abstract

Multiple anthropogenic threats have caused vulture populations to decline globally, with serious ecological and socio-economic implications. The Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) has declined throughout its range in southern Africa, recently being listed as extinct as a breeding species in Namibia. It has been suggested that climate change might have contributed to the decline of Cape vultures in northern parts of the range. To provide a first assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on the occurrence of Cape vultures, a presence-only ecological niche modelling method (Maxent) was used to predict the spatial occurrence patterns of wild-caught vultures fitted with GPS tracking units in northern Namibia and northern South Africa, under current and future climatic conditions. The models showed high predictive power (AUC >0.868±0.006), with precipitation seasonality and other bioclimatic variables identified as the most important variables for predicting Cape vulture presence. Of the area estimated to be suitable for Cape vultures under current conditions, 28-55% was predicted to become unsuitable under future climate conditions, with a pole-ward shift in the mean centre of the range of 151-333 km and significant range loss from the former breeding range in north-central Namibia and the core breeding range in northern South Africa. Expansions of suitable conditions into areas where the species has been historically absent in the south of the range were also predicted. The coverage of predicted suitable areas by protected areas was predicted to decrease from 5.8-7.9% to 2.8-3.8%, suggesting that private land will become increasingly important for Cape vulture conservation.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Biological Conservation
Creators: Phipps, W.L., Diekmann, M., MacTavish, L.M., Mendelsohn, J.M., Naidoo, V., Wolter, K. and Yarnell, R.W.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: June 2017
Volume: 210
ISSN: 0006-3207
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1016/j.biocon.2017.03.028DOI
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 27 Apr 2017 10:41
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 10:32
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/30546

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