the main points
- Scientists have used a new method called MegaSDM to track the distribution of species around the world
- It showed that there would be a slight movement in general towards the north
- Many animals will not be able to find suitable habitats
The world is warming up, no doubt about it. But the rise in temperature causes half of all species to leave their habitats in cooler climates. The question is will they get there in time?
The scientists discussed this issue in their latest papers published in the journal Ecology. They have devised a new method, called MegaSDM, to track the distribution of species around the world.
“When we think about the impact of climate change on species’ habitats, we have to ask: Where might species live in the future under climate change, but more importantly, can they get there?” He said Pestra Delkina, associate professor of computer science at the University of Southern California (USC) and co-director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society.
The team found that there would be a general movement northward and, more importantly, that many animals would not succeed in finding suitable habitats.
Although tools are available to assess the distribution of species, they are not up to par. The researchers say MegaSDM is the first modeling tool that takes into account the dispersal limits of many species, climate models and time periods simultaneously.
Dispersal limits are restrictions that affect the movement of animals. Different animals have different levels of tolerance to environmental changes, transforming and migrating at their own speed. Factors such as mobility, reproductive capacity, or landscape features play a role in determining their migration.
MegaSDM has created a series of maps of how animals move over time based on a list of species and ecological data. The research team analyzed the distribution patterns of 165 Mammals Found in North America and projected estimates for 2050 and 2070 under two cases – with and without dispersal.
“When the rate of dispersal is taken into account, the future looks much bleaker than we expected,” said Jenny McGuire, a biogeographer at Georgia Tech.
According to the study, many species will not be able to colonize all suitable habitats in 2070.
“When looking at changes in habitat suitability over time, we see habitat shrinkage to the south, and habitat suitability expansion to the north, which is to be expected. But more importantly, when incorporating dispersal constraints into the analysis, we also see a lot of habitat suitability gains being lost,” McGuire explained. due to dispersion limits.
The model will be effective in identifying species that are most vulnerable and require immediate support.
“The tool allows us to recognize when a species is being restricted by other types of impacts, and allows us to better predict where they might live in the future and identify potential areas for recovery,” McGuire added.
The researchers say climate change is much closer than they expected.
“Building tools that help us make quantitative predictions about what will happen is critical, and I believe this will enable future work in biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation efforts,” Delkina said.
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