Predicted declines in suitable habitat for greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) under future climate and land use change scenarios

Pant, Ganesh ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1463-9273 and Maraseni, Tek ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9361-1983 and Apan, Armando ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5412-8881 and Allen, Benjamin L. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1533-0163 (2021) Predicted declines in suitable habitat for greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) under future climate and land use change scenarios. Ecology and Evolution, 11 (24). pp. 18288-18304.

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Abstract

Rapidly changing climate is likely to modify the spatial distribution of both flora and fauna. Land use change continues to alter the availability and quality of habitat and further intensifies the effects of climate change on wildlife species. We used an ensemble modeling approach to predict changes in habitat suitability for an iconic wildlife species, greater one-horned rhinoceros due to the combined effects of climate and land use changes. We compiled an extensive database on current rhinoceros distribution and selected nine ecologically meaningful environmental variables for developing ensemble models of habitat suitability using ten different species distribution modeling algorithms in the BIOMOD2 R package; and we did this under current climatic conditions and then projected them onto two possible climate change scenarios (SSP1-2.6 and SSP5-8.5) and two different time frames (2050 and 2070). Out of ten algorithms, random forest performed the best, and five environmental variables—distance from grasslands, mean temperature of driest quarter, distance from wetlands, annual precipitation, and slope, contributed the most in the model. The ensemble model estimated the current suitable habitat of rhinoceros to be 2610 km2, about 1.77% of the total area of Nepal. The future habitat suitability under the lowest and highest emission scenarios was estimated to be: (1) 2325 and 1904 km2 in 2050; and (2) 2287 and 1686 km2 in 2070, respectively. Our results suggest that over one-third of the current rhinoceros habitat would become unsuitable within a period of 50 years, with the predicted declines being influenced to a greater degree by climatic changes than land use changes. We have recommended several measures to moderate these impacts, including relocation of the proposed Nijgad International Airport given that a considerable portion of potential rhinoceros habitat will be lost if the airport is constructed on the currently proposed site.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2022 23:27
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2022 01:59
Uncontrolled Keywords: BIOMOD2, climate change refugia, correlative approach, ensemble modeling, habitat loss, land use change, species distribution modeling
Fields of Research (2008): 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
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190102 Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8421
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/45579

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