Struggling to predict how species shift with climate
- View SourceStruggling to predict how species shift with climate
Biologists increasingly accept that conservation efforts must
anticipate the effects of future climate change.
Bioclimatic models, which estimate how the distribution of different
species changes with climate, are vital for planning conservation
projects. But it is difficult to choose which model to use since
biologists disagree about their relative performances.
In this article, Miguel Araújo and Carsten Rahbek examine progress in
A recent assessment of prominent models found that some widely used
models performed poorly, while the ones that performed best were more
recent and complex.
It is challenging to assess whether models that give accurate
descriptions of the current species distribution will correctly
predict the future. Robust predictions of future distributions under
climate change are key, but a study this year showed that results
vary wildly between different models.
Techniques such as 'hindcasting' in which models are tested with
reconstructed species distributions from the fossil record could
What is clear, given the uncertainties surrounding this kind of
prediction, is the need for a new round of testing.
Link to article in Science