New publication: Future suitability of habitat in a migratory ungulate under climate change

By Inger Maren Rivrud*, Erling L. Meisingset§, Leif Egil Loe  and Atle Mysterud* in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


With climate change, the effect of global warming on snow cover is expected to cause range expansion and enhance habitat suitability for species at their northern distribution limits. However, how this depends on landscape topography and sex in size-dimorphic species remains uncertain, and is further complicated for migratory animals following climate-driven seasonal resource fluctuations across vast landscapes. Using 11 years of data from a partially migratory ungulate at their northern distribution ranges, the red deer (Cervus elaphus), we predicted sex-specific summer and winter habitat suitability in diverse landscapes under medium and severe global warming. We found large increases in future winter habitat suitability, resulting in expansion of winter ranges as currently unsuitable habitat became suitable. Even moderate warming decreased snow cover substantially, with no suitability difference between warming scenarios. Winter ranges will hence not expand linearly with warming, even for species at their northern distribution limits. Although less pronounced than in winter, summer ranges also expanded and more so under severe warming. Summer habitat suitability was positively correlated with landscape topography and ranges expanded more for females than males. Our study highlights the complexity of predicting future habitat suitability for conservation and management of size-dimorphic, migratory species under global warming.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Volume 286, Issue 1899
Published online 20/03/2019
Publication webpage.

* Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
§ Department of Forestry and Forestry Resources, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Tingvoll gard, 6630 Tingvoll, Norway
Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, PO Box 5003, 1432 Aas, Norway

Tags: Proc. R. Soc. B;
Published Apr. 1, 2019 11:23 AM - Last modified Apr. 1, 2019 11:23 AM