Seminar Abstract

Josh Lawler

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Projected climate-induced shifts in the fauna of the western hemisphere


Recent shifts in species distributions have been linked to recent changes in climate. Most notably, species have shifted their geographic ranges both poleward in latitude and upward in elevation at rates that are consistent with recent warming trends. Models built for 2,954 bird, mammal, and amphibian species indicate that large portions of both North and South America are projected to experience at least 20-30% species turnover under even a lower greenhouse-gas emissions scenario. These changes have the potential to dramatically affect many protected lands including the U.S. national parks, the largest 87 of which are projected to experience between 8% and 61% change in their current fauna by 2100. Of the three major taxonomic groups modeled, amphibians were predicted to experience the largest distributional changes. Additional analyses demonstrate how these changes are likely to be exacerbated by land-use change and limited dispersal abilities.


Speaker bio:

Josh is an assistant professor in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington. He received his MS and PhD in ecology from Utah State University and since then has served as a postdoctoral fellow with the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy at the University of Maine, a research associate of the National Research Council at the US Environmental Protection Agency, and a Nature Conservancy David H. Smith postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University. His research interests generally lie in the fields of landscape ecology and conservation biology. He is most interested in how anthropogenic factors affect species distributions, population dynamics, and community composition at regional and continental scales. His current research involves investigating the effects of climate change on species distributions, exploring the combine effects of climate change and land-use change on populations of endangered species, and addressing the issue of climate change in the conservation-planning process.