Using species distribution models to infer potential climate change-induced range shifts of freshwater fish in south-eastern Australia

Nicholas Bond, James Thomson, Paul Reich, Janet Stein

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There are few quantitative predictions for the impacts of climate change on freshwater fish in Australia. We developed species distribution models (SDMs) linking historical fish distributions for 43 species from Victorian streams to a suite of hydro-climatic and catchment predictors, and applied these models to explore predicted range shifts under future climate-change scenarios. Here, we present summary results for the 43 species, together with a more detailed analysis for a subset of species with distinct distributions in relation to temperature and hydrology. Range shifts increased from the lower to upper climate-change scenarios, with most species predicted to undergo some degree of range shift. Changes in total occupancy ranged from -38 to +63 under the lower climate-change scenario to -47 to +182 under the upper climate-change scenario. We do, however, caution that range expansions are more putative than range contractions, because the effects of barriers, limited dispersal and potential life-history factors are likely to exclude some areas from being colonised. As well as potentially informing more mechanistic modelling approaches, quantitative predictions such as these should be seen as representing hypotheses to be tested and discussed, and should be valuable for informing long-term strategies to protect aquatic biota.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043 - 1061
Number of pages19
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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