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Global opportunities for trophic rewilding of large terrestrial mammals under climate change

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Background: Anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss is predicted to increase in the future. Such losses decrease the complexity and resilience of ecological communities by hindering their capacity to recover from disturbances. A future-oriented approach to restore lost ecosystem function is trophic rewilding, the (re)introduction of missing keystone species to promote self-sustaining biodiverse ecosystems. A critical aspect in planning for future trophic rewilding is the selection of suitable release sites that match the biotic and abiotic needs of the focal species under future climates, with protection and restoration of reserves being an important consideration.

Methods: Using current and estimated range maps of where large terrestrial mammals (≥10 kg) would live today without anthropogenic influences, we modelled climatic suitability under current and future climates. We then quantified the amount of climatically suitable habitat for large mammals within and outside current protected areas.

Finding: We found that under current conditions ~22% of climatically suitable area could be restored with (re)introductions. For all reintroductions, current climatically suitable area was over ~220% of current range size. Under future climates the amount of climatically suitable habitat decreased ~50–65% from the current climatic suitability depending on emission scenario, although suitable habitat was still higher than current ranges. Most of the climatically suitable habitat was outside protected areas, which varied between only ~4–8% under both current and future climates, but, importantly, there remained climatically suitable habitat for all species in the future.

Conclusion: Our results reveal substantial areas of climatically suitable habitat for the restoration of large terrestrial mammals through trophic rewilding under current and future climates, both within and outside protected areas, although emission scenario does impact the amount of available habitat.
StatusUdgivet - 2020
BegivenhedNordic Oikos conference 2020
- Reykjavík, Island
Varighed: 3 mar. 20205 mar. 2020


KonferenceNordic Oikos conference 2020

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