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Mitigation of climate change impacts on raptors by behavioural adaptation: ecological buffering mechanisms

Global and Planetary Change
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2004.10.016
  • Climate Change
  • Extinction Risk
  • Mitigation
  • Buffering Mechanisms
  • Population Viability Analysis
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography


Abstract The predicted climate change causes deep concerns on the effects of increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns on species viability and, in turn, on biodiversity. Models of Population Viability Analysis (PVA) provide a powerful tool to assess the risk of species extinction. However, most PVA models do not take into account the potential effects of behavioural adaptations. Organisms might adapt to new environmental situations and thereby mitigate negative effects of climate change. To demonstrate such mitigation effects, we use an existing PVA model describing a population of the tawny eagle ( Aquila rapax) in the southern Kalahari. This model does not include behavioural adaptations. We develop a new model by assuming that the birds enlarge their average territory size to compensate for lower amounts of precipitation. Here, we found the predicted increase in risk of extinction due to climate change to be much lower than in the original model. However, this “buffering” of climate change by behavioural adaptation is not very effective in coping with increasing interannual variances. We refer to further examples of ecological “buffering mechanisms” from the literature and argue that possible buffering mechanisms should be given due consideration when the effects of climate change on biodiversity are to be predicted.

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