Species distribution models are of only limited use in predicting the future distribution of mammals. This is the finding of a study of the climate niches of 140 indigenous European mammals. The researchers analysed data on species distribution, climate, land cover and topography, as well as the phylogenetic information of the species.
Judging by the large differences in climate niches even for closely related species, mammals seem to adapt fast to changing climatic conditions. This in turn makes predictions based on current distributions unreliable. Writing in Biology Letters, a journal of the British Royal Society, scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) say that since many mammals around the world are endangered by the loss of their habitats and by chemicals and traffic, climate change is just one of many threats.
In their study, the researchers produced distribution models for European mammals and calculated the climate niche overlap. These show under which climate conditions a species currently occurs. Then they compared the climate niche distance and the phylogenetic distance to the species' closest relative. The niche overlap was much less than one would have expected from the phylogenetic information. For example, species such as Greater Mouse-Eared Bat (Myotis myotis) and Lesser Mouse-Eared Bat (Myotis blythii), Beech Marten (Martes foina) and European Pine Marten (Martes martes) or Iberian hare (Lepus granatensis) and European Hare (Lepus europaeus) are closely related, but seem to occupy different Climate niches.
"Our analysis points to a high degree of climate flexibility – regardless of phylogenetic distance," explains Dr Carsten Dormann of the UFZ. "Competition between closely related species has ensured that they currently occupy different climate niches. This does not appear to require slow evolutionary adaptations, but can be achieved within the physiological constraints of the species. The realized climate niche currently occupied is therefore probably only a small part of the 'fundamental' niche." Mammals can occupy broader fundamental climate niches than insects or plants because, as endothermic organisms, they are better able to buffer variations in climate: "We suspect that phylogenetic distance will play a greater role in reptiles and insects." Moreover, the niche overlap is lower among lagomorphs, rodents and insectivores than among bats and carnivores. This indicates that mobile species are better able to avoid competition from related species.
With its expertise, the UFZ plays a part in researching the consequences of climate change and in developing adaptation strategies. You can find more on this in the special issue of the UFZ newsletter entitled "On the case of climate change" at http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=10690Publication: Dormann, C.F., Gruber, B., Winter, M., Hermann, D. (2009). Evolution of climate niches in European mammals. Biology Letters http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/10/09/rsbl.2009.
At the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) scientists research the causes and consequences of far-reaching environmental changes. They study water resources, biological diversity, the consequences of climate change and adaptation possibilities, environmental and biotechnologies, bio energy, the behaviour of chemicals in the environment and their effect on health, as well as modelling and social science issues. Their guiding research principle is supporting the sustainable use of natural resources and helping to secure these basic requirements of life over the long term under the influence of global change. The UFZ employs 930 people at its sites in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is funded by the German government and by the states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.
The Helmholtz Association helps solve major, pressing challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, Transport and Space. With 28,000 employees in 15 research centres and an annual budget of around EUR 2.4 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation. Its work follows in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).
Tilo Arnhold | EurekAlert!
A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates
20.08.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
20.08.2018 | Information Technology
20.08.2018 | Life Sciences
20.08.2018 | Information Technology