Decreasing brown bear (Ursus arctos) habitat due to climate change in Central Asia and the Asian Highlands

Su, Junhu and Aryal, Achyut and Hegab, Ibrahim M. and Shrestha, Uttam Babu and Coogan, Sean C. P. and Dalannast, Munkhnast and Sathyakumar, Sambandam and Dou, Zhigang and Suo, Yila and Dabu, Xilite and Fu, Hongyan and Wu, Liji and Ji, Weihong (2018) Decreasing brown bear (Ursus arctos) habitat due to climate change in Central Asia and the Asian Highlands. Ecology and Evolution, 8 (23). pp. 11887-11899. ISSN 2045-7758

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Around the world, climate change has impacted many species. In this study, we used bioclimatic variables and biophysical layers of Central Asia and the Asian Highlands combined with presence data of brown bear (Ursus arctos) to understand their current distribution and predict their future distribution under the current rate of climate change. Our bioclimatic model showed that the current suitable habitat of brown bear encompasses 3,430,493 km2 in the study area, the majority of which (>65%) located in China. Our analyses demonstrated that suitable habitat will be reduced by 11% (378,861.30 km2) across Central Asia and the Asian Highlands by 2,050 due to climate change, predominantly (>90%) due to the changes in temperature and precipitation. The spatially averaged mean annual temperature of brown bear habitat is currently −1.2°C and predicted to increase to 1.6°C by 2,050. Mean annual precipitation in brown bear habitats is predicted to increase by 13% (from 406 to 459 mm) by 2,050. Such changes in two critical climatic variables may significantly affect the brown bear distribution, ethological repertoires, and physiological processes, which may increase their risk of extirpation in some areas. Approximately 32% (1,124,330 km2) of the total suitable habitat falls within protected areas, which was predicted to reduce to 1,103,912 km2 (1.8% loss) by 2,050. Future loss of suitable habitats inside the protected areas may force brown bears to move outside the protected areas thereby increasing their risk of mortality. Therefore, more protected areas should be established in the suitable brown bear habitats in future to sustain populations in this region. Furthermore, development of corridors is needed to connect habitats between protected areas of different countries in Central Asia. Such practices will facilitate climate migration and connectivity among populations and movement between and within countries.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: ThisisanopenaccessarticleunderthetermsoftheCreativeCommonsAttributionLicense,whichpermitsuse,distributionandreproductioninanymedium, providedtheoriginalworkisproperlycited. ©2018TheAuthors.Ecology and EvolutionpublishedbyJohnWiley&SonsLtd.
Faculty / Department / School: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2019 04:29
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2019 04:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: Asian highlands; brown bear; Central Asia; climate change; habitat shift; species distribution model; species distributions; models; responses; impacts; region; range; biodiversity; performance; management; patterns
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4645

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