Range shifts of a relict Himalayan dragonfly in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region under climate change scenarios


Although understanding of geographic range shifts of many species in response to global climate change is expanding steadily, little is known about the Himalayan fauna, which in particular is affected by relatively faster warming rates than other parts of the world. Anticipated increases in temperature and changes in hydrological regimes will have significant adverse impacts on the habitat suitability for many species. This threat will even be higher to endemic and already threatened species due to their restricted distribution and narrow climate tolerance ranges. We investigated the range shifts of a relict Himalayan dragonfly (Epiophlebia laidlawi), a species that is endemic to the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Currently, the species is only known from few localities in Bhutan, India and Nepal. For conservation of the species, it is necessary to foresee potential suitable habitat areas and range shifts due to global climate change. Here, we first estimated the current potential geographic distribution by identifying the suitable habitat area in the region using bioclimatic envelope models, by means of consensus projections of six algorithms as implemented in the BIOMOD-package in the software program R. We then used the current distribution to render future projections under the A2a and B2a IPCC emission scenarios for the years 2050 and 2080. Models predict that the suitable habitat area of the species will shift on average 374 m and 599 m uphill under the extreme (A2a) climate warming scenario, and 294 m and 342 m uphill under the moderate (B2a) scenario by 2050 and 2080, respectively. Future suitable habitat areas are projected to remain only in the high mountains of eastern Nepal. The results will help conservationists to delineate priority habitats in the first step towards the species conservation in the region.

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