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How Do Non-Specialist Sub-Arctic Mammals React to Warming?

Hof, A.R., Jansson, R. and Nilsson, C. 2012. Future climate change will favor non-specialist mammals in the (Sub)Arctics. PLOS ONE: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052574.
Writing as background for their work, Hof et al. (2012) say "it is supposed that the large expected climate change at high northern latitudes ... makes species in (sub)arctic regions particularly susceptible (Virkkala et al., 2008; Sala et al., 2000; Jetz et al., 2007), especially the European part of the (sub)arctic, since this region is the most geographically complex with the most infrastructure and great cultural, social, and political heterogeneity (Nilsson et al., 2010)." However, they think differently; and they go on to tell us why.

As their contribution to the topic, Hof et al., as they describe it, "assessed potential changes in the geographic distribution of all terrestrial mammal species currently present in (sub)arctic Europe," along with additional species that might possibly colonize the region from the south. This they did using "species distribution modeling, incorporating projections of future climate and vegetation, in order to provide a better insight into the magnitude of the risk mammal species are facing, and the potential community level changes they have to endure due to climate change." And what did their analysis show?

"Contrary to expectation," as they write, the three Swedish researchers report that their modeling of species distributions suggests that (1) "predicted climate change up to 2080 will favor most mammals presently inhabiting (sub)arctic Europe," and that (2) "no species is predicted to go extinct."

Hof et al. conclude their discussion of the subject by stating that "for most (sub)arctic mammals it is not climate change per se that will threaten them, but possible constraints on their dispersal ability and changes in community composition." And, therefore, with a little help from the region's human population, most (sub)arctic mammals should be able to survive any future warming that may be experienced there.

Additional References
Jetz, W., Wilcove, D. and Dobson, A. 2007. Projected impacts of climate and land-use change on the global diversity of birds. PLoS Biology 5: 1211-1219.

Nilsson, C., Jansson, R., Keskitalo, E.C.H., Vlassova, T., Sutinen, M.L., Moen, J. and Chapin 3rd, F.S. 2010. Challenges to adaptation in northernmost Europe as a result of global climate change. AMBIO 39: 81-84.

Sala, O.E., Chapin 3rd., F.S., Armesto, J.J., Berlow, E., Bloomfield, J., Dirzo, R., Huber-Sanwald, E., Huenneke, L.F., Jackson, R.B., Kinzig, A., Leemans, R., Lodge, D., Mooney, H.A., Oesterheld, M., Poff, N.L., Sykes, M.T., Walker, B.H., Walker, M. and Wall, D.H. 2000. Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287: 1770-1774.

Virkkala, R., Heikkinen, R.K., Leikola, N. and Luoto, M. 2008. Projected large-scale range reductions of northern-boreal land bird species due to climate change. Biological Conservation 141: 1343-1353.

Archived 12 June 2013