Fri, 29 Nov 2013, 10.00am @ SR1: Nega Abate on “Climate change and species distribution modelling”

Qualifying Examination

Climate change and species distribution modelling: implications for bird conservation in Ethiopia


Nega Tassie Abate

Graduate Student
Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS

Friday, 29 Nov 2013: 10.00am
@ DBS Seminar Room 1, S2 Level 4
Supervisor: Asst Prof Chisholm, Ryan Alistair

All are welcome


“Global climate change has large effects on ecosystems, humans, and other species. From both pure ecological and applied conservation perspectives, it is important to study the responses of particular species to climate change. Taking birds as target species, this project aims to investigate (i) global latitudinal shifts in bird distributions; (ii) altitudinal shifts in bird distributions in Ethiopia; and (iii) species distribution modelling of birds of Ethiopia under climate change scenarios. Although the latitudinal shift analysis is still ongoing, our preliminary results show that large shifts in altitude have been recorded for resident bird species of Ethiopia. For the third part we used GIS applications and Maxent modelling on four bird species (Francolinus harwoodi, Cyanochen cyanoptera, Policephalus flavifrons and Corvus crassirostri) to explore the relative influence of different abiotic factors on their distributions. We evaluated the accuracy of models by using the area under the curve (AUC) describing the relationship between true positive and false positive probabilities of occurrences. Model accuracies in order of decreasing magnitude are: Francolinus harwoodi (0.95 ± 0.032; mean ± standard error), Cyanochen cyanoptera (0.87 ± 0.049), Poicephalus flavifrons (0.86 ± 0.048) and Corvus crassirostris (0.75 ± 0.055). The most important environmental factors affecting the species’ distributions, identified by a jackknife procedure, were monthly and quarterly temperature and precipitation of the driest quarter. Under future climate scenarios, Policephalus flavifrons and Corvus crassirostris show a change in their predicted distributional range. However, Francolinus harwoodi and Cyanochen cyanoptera were similar to their current distributional range. Although these two species appear not to be very vulnerable to climate change, other bird species across the world have been shown to be vulnerable and so detailed study of other bird species in Ethiopia is important for conservation and management. In future work, as part of the thesis, we propose to analyse over 400 Ethiopian bird species using similar methodology.

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