Their maps, combined with climate models, will project how climate change will alter biodiversity and help to shape policy for setting aside conservation easements.
Wildlife, people and livestock have weathered past variation in climate by shifting their seasonal migration patterns though the varied of ecological zones in the Great Rift Valley, which runs through the center of Kenya and Tanzania.
“When you go from the bottom of the rift, it’s almost desert. By the time you get up to the top, no more than 15-20 km away, it’s rainforest,” said David Western, adjunct professor of biology at UCSD, director of the African Conservation Centre in Nairobi and former director of Kenya Wildlife Service. “Previously this was communal land where people moved with the seasons and they moved with changing climates.”
Now, as climate change is expected to shift the balance between habitats in this region, increased farming has fragmented the landscape, Western said. “It’s removed the highland grazing for both livestock and wildlife. The crop residues can keep the livestock going, but it’s a complete lockout for wildlife.”
The project will identify areas that, if protected, would allow both wildlife and pastoralists to move to more favorable conditions as climate shifts. “What we want to do is identify key pathways where, working with landowners, you can actually keep the land open, through a conservation easement,” Western said.
To determine how the centers of biological richness are likely to shift, UCSD biology assistant professor Walter Jetz and Daniel Kissling, a postdoctoral fellow, have mapped the ranges of 2,700 species of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles across all of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
For each species, they have plotted an ‘ecological envelope.’ “Within those boundaries, we are likely to encounter those species,” Jetz said. “With the distribution map, we can determine the species’ climatic niche.”
The next step, Jetz said, is to revise their maps using satellite images and field notes, to a finer scale. Their current maps are drawn to a 100 kilometer resolution. “You need some refinement if you want to be able to make predictions, so we are taking global maps and refining them to the scale of actual conservation decision-making: to a 10 or 20 km resolution,” Jetz said.
Jetz’s group’s maps of animal diversity will be combined with those for plants and human land use to gain a fuller picture of how ranges and interactions between species are likely to shift under different climate changes. A plant and an animal may respond differently to the same climate shift, for example, causing their ranges to diverge until the two species no longer co-exist.
At a recent meeting at the University of York in the UK, participants in the project agreed to join their completed distribution maps in a single database, and to combine that multilayered map with two climate models – one based on the minimum expected change and another that anticipates larger climate shifts – to develop six future ecological scenarios for East Africa: two each for the years 2025, 2055 and 2085. These scenarios will inform decisions about setting aside additional reserves in Kenya and Tanzania.
“The organization David Western represents has close ties to the stakeholders in Kenya, and therefore there is hope that some of the findings will actually be implemented,” Jetz said. “We sense a clear willingness in Kenya and Tanzania to put more reserves in place to mitigate the impacts of global change. For that they are looking to scientists for guidance. So we have a situation where good science can lead to significant basic insights and also make a difference for the people and their wildlife. We are very excited to be involved.
The project is funded by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation. Other participating institutions include the Missouri Botanical Garden; the University of York, UK; and Clark University.Contact:
Susan Brown | Newswise Science News
Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences