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Climate change is creating a mismatch between protected areas and suitable habitats for frogs and birds in Puerto Rico

July 27, 2021

Climate change is altering the spatial distribution of many species around the world. In response, we need to identify and protect suitable areas for a large proportion of the fauna so that they persist through time. This exercise must also evaluate the ability of existing protected areas to provide safe havens for species in the context of climate change. Here, we combined passive acoustic monitoring, semi-automatic species identification models, and species distribution models of 21 bird and frog species based on past (1980–1989), present (2005–2014), and future (2040–2060) climate scenarios to determine how species distributions relate to the current distribution of protected areas in Puerto Rico. Species detection/non-detection data were acquired across ~ 700 sampling sites. We developed always-suitable maps that characterized suitable habitats in all three time periods for each species and overlaid these maps to identify regions with high species co-occurrence. These distributions were then compared with the distribution of existing protected areas. We show that Puerto Rico is projected to become dryer by 2040–2060, and precipitation in the warmest quarter was among the most important variables affecting bird and frog distributions. A large portion of always-suitable areas (ASA) is outside of protected areas (> 80%), and the percent of protected areas that overlaps with always-suitable areas is larger for bird (75%) than frog (39%) species. Our results indicate that present protected areas will not suffice to safeguard bird and frog species under climate change; however, the establishment of larger protected areas, buffer zones, and connectivity between protected areas may allow species to find suitable niches to withstand environmental changes.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Climate change is creating a mismatch between protected areas and suitable habitats for frogs and birds in Puerto Rico
DOI 10.1007/s10531-021-02258-9
Authors Marconi Campos-Cerqueira, Adam Terando, Brent Murray, Jaime A. Collazo, Mitchell Aide
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Conservation
Series Number
Index ID 70222611
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

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