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Climate change-induced decline in bamboo habitats and species diversity: implications for giant panda conservation

Articles

Journal/Conference:

DIVERSITY AND DISTRIBUTIONS

Language:

English

Author:

Li Renqiang; Wong Michelle Hang Gi; Qiu Shuai; Sheng Qingkai; Li Xinhai; Song Zengming

Experts:

Xu Ming

Year:

2015

Volume:

21

Issue:

4

Pages:

379-391

Keywords:

Bamboo species; climate change; MAXENT; panda conservation; species diversity

AimConservation strategies must anticipate how climate change may alter the geographic distributions of limited food resources for highly specialized species. Here, we use bamboo as a case study to investigate climate change-induced changes in species diversity and discuss how to protect the critical food species for giant pandas. LocationGiant panda habitats. MethodsUsing a niche-based model and the most updated climate projections, we projected the current and future distribution of 16 bamboo species under no and universal dispersal assumptions. We then assessed the impact of climate change on bamboo forests and their alpha and beta diversities in the giant panda habitats and reserves. ResultsUnder both dispersal assumptions and three RCPs, six bamboo species are projected to vanish from panda habitats as climate change progresses, resulting in a great loss of the current bamboo forests. Although about half of the bamboo species may potentially colonize new climatically suitable areas under universal dispersal, the other species would experience significant habitat loss. Consequently, climate change would reduce both the alpha and beta diversity of bamboo species in panda habitats. Meanwhile, the proportion of single-species bamboo forests would significantly increase. The decline in bamboo forests and diversity would be most drastic in Qinling, Daxiangling and Qionglaishan Mountains, whereas those in the north-west of Minshan Mountains and Liangshan Mountains may increase. Main conclusionsClimate change-induced decline in bamboo habitats and species diversity would pose a severe challenge to the food availability of giant pandas. We posit that human-assisted adaptation and increasing bamboo species diversity are critical to ensuring food security of the giant panda in a changing climate. Our results indicate that conservation planning should not only incorporate species range shifts but also diversity patterns in communities under climate change.