Current Analogues of Future Climate Indicate the Likely Response of a Sensitive Montane Tropical Avifauna to a Warming World

Anderson, Alexander S., Storlie, Collin J., Shoo, Luke P., Pearson, Richard G. and Williams, Stephen E. (2013) Current Analogues of Future Climate Indicate the Likely Response of a Sensitive Montane Tropical Avifauna to a Warming World. PloS One, 8 7: e69393.1-e69393.12. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069393

Author Anderson, Alexander S.
Storlie, Collin J.
Shoo, Luke P.
Pearson, Richard G.
Williams, Stephen E.
Title Current Analogues of Future Climate Indicate the Likely Response of a Sensitive Montane Tropical Avifauna to a Warming World
Journal name PloS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2013-07
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0069393
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue 7
Start page e69393.1
End page e69393.12
Total pages 13
Place of publication San Francisco, CA United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Among birds, tropical montane species are likely to be among the most vulnerable to climate change, yet little is known
about how climate drives their distributions, nor how to predict their likely responses to temperature increases. Correlative
models of species’ environmental niches have been widely used to predict changes in distribution, but direct tests of the
relationship between key variables, such as temperature, and species’ actual distributions are few. In the absence of
historical data with which to compare observations and detect shifts, space-for-time substitutions, where warmer locations
are used as analogues of future conditions, offer an opportunity to test for species’ responses to climate. We collected
density data for rainforest birds across elevational gradients in northern and southern subregions within the Australian Wet
Tropics (AWT). Using environmental optima calculated from elevational density profiles, we detected a significant
elevational difference between the two regions in ten of 26 species. More species showed a positive (19 spp.) than negative
(7 spp.) displacement, with a median difference of ~80.6 m across the species analysed that is concordant with that
expected due to latitudinal temperature differences (~75.5 m). Models of temperature gradients derived from broad-scale
climate surfaces showed comparable performance to those based on in-situ measurements, suggesting the former is
sufficient for modeling impacts. These findings not only confirm temperature as an important factor driving elevational
distributions of these species, but also suggest species will shift upslope to track their preferred environmental conditions.
Our approach uses optima calculated from elevational density profiles, offering a data-efficient alternative to distribution
limits for gauging climate constraints, and is sensitive enough to detect distribution shifts in this avifauna in response to
temperature changes of as little as 0.4 degrees. We foresee important applications in the urgent task of detecting and
monitoring impacts of climate change on montane tropical biodiversity.
Keyword Elevational Range Shifts
Australian Wet Tropics
Rain Forest Birds
Distribution Models
Population size
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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