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Global warming, elevational ranges and the vulnerability of tropical biota

Publication Year


  • Laurance, William F.
  • Useche, D. Carolina
  • Shoo, Luke P.
  • Herzog, Sebastian K.
  • Kessler, Michael
  • Escobar, Federico
  • Brehm, Gunnar
  • Axmacher, Jan C.
  • Chen, I-Ching
  • Arellano Gamez, Lucrecia
  • Hietz, Peter
  • Fiedler, Konrad
  • Pyrcz, Tomasz
  • Wolf, Jan
  • Merkord, Christopher L.
  • Cardelus, Catherine
  • Marshall, Andrew R.
  • Ah-Peng, Claudine
  • Aplet, Gregory H.
  • del Coro Arizmendi, M.
  • Baker, William J.
  • Barone, John
  • Bruehl, Carsten A.
  • Bussmann, Rainer W.
  • Cicuzza, Daniele
  • Eilu, Gerald
  • Favila, Mario E.
  • Hemp, Andreas
  • Hemp, Claudia
  • Homeier, Juergen
  • Hurtado, Johanna
  • Jankowski, Jill
  • Kattan, Gustavo
  • Kluge, Juergen
  • Kroemer, Thorsten
  • Lees, David C.
  • Lehnert, Marcus
  • Longino, John T.
  • Lovett, Jon
  • Martin, Patrick H.
  • Patterson, Bruce D.
  • Pearson, Richard G.
  • Peh, Kelvin S-H
  • Richardson, Barbara
  • Richardson, Michael
  • Samways, Michael J.
  • Senbeta, Feyera
  • Smith, Thomas B.
  • Utteridge, Timothy M. A.
  • Watkins, James E.
  • Wilson, Rohan
  • Williams, Stephen E.
  • Thomas, Chris D.
BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION Volume: 144 Issue: 1 Pages: 548-557 Published: 2011

Tropical species with narrow elevational ranges may be thermally specialized and vulnerable to global warming. Local studies of distributions along elevational gradients reveal small-scale patterns but do not allow generalizations among geographic regions or taxa. We critically assessed data from 249 studies of species elevational distributions in the American, African, and Asia-Pacific tropics. Of these, 150 had sufficient data quality, sampling intensity, elevational range, and freedom from serious habitat disturbance to permit robust across-study comparisons. We found four main patterns: (1) species classified as elevational specialists (upper- or lower-zone specialists) are relatively more frequent in the American than Asia-Pacific tropics, with African tropics being intermediate; (2) elevational specialists are rare on islands, especially oceanic and smaller continental islands, largely due to a paucity of upper-zone specialists; (3) a relatively high proportion of plants and ectothermic vertebrates (amphibians and reptiles) are upper-zone specialists; and (4) relatively few endothermic vertebrates (birds and mammals) are upper-zone specialists. Understanding these broad-scale trends will help identify taxa and geographic regions vulnerable to global warming and highlight future research priorities. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author Keyword(s)
  • Africa
  • Asia-Pacific
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Elevational range
  • Endemism
  • Extinction
  • Global warming
  • Montane areas
  • Neotropics
  • Thermal tolerance
  • Tropical ecosystems
KeyWord(s) Plus
ESI Discipline(s)
  • Environment/Ecology
Web of Science Category(ies)
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences

[Laurance, William F.; Pearson, Richard G.] James Cook Univ, Sch Marine & Trop Biol, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia; [Laurance, William F.; Useche, D. Carolina] Smithsonian Trop Res Inst, Balboa, Ancon, Panama; [Shoo, Luke P.; Williams, Stephen E.] James Cook Univ, Ctr Biodivers & Climate Change Res, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia; [Herzog, Sebastian K.] BirdLife Int, Asociac Armonia, Santa Cruz, Bolivia; [Kessler, Michael; Cicuzza, Daniele; Kluge, Juergen] Univ Zurich, Inst Systemat Bot, Zurich, Switzerland; [Escobar, Federico; Arellano Gamez, Lucrecia; Favila, Mario E.] Inst Ecol, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico; [Brehm, Gunnar] Inst Spezielle Zool & Evolut Biol Phyletischem Mu, Jena, Germany; [Axmacher, Jan C.] UCL, Dept Geog, London, England; [Chen, I-Ching; Thomas, Chris D.] Univ York, Dept Biol, York YO10 5DD, N Yorkshire, England; [Hietz, Peter] Univ Nat Resources & Appl Life Sci, Inst Bot, Vienna, Austria; [Fiedler, Konrad] Univ Vienna, Dept Anim Biodivers, Vienna, Austria; [Pyrcz, Tomasz] Jagiellonian Univ, Zool Museum, Krakow, Poland; [Wolf, Jan] Univ Amsterdam, Inst Biodivers & Ecosyst Dynam, Amsterdam, Netherlands; [Merkord, Christopher L.] Univ Missouri, Div Biol Sci, Columbia, MO 65211 USA; [Cardelus, Catherine; Watkins, James E.] Colgate Univ, Dept Biol, Hamilton, NY 13346 USA; [Marshall, Andrew R.; Lovett, Jon] Univ York, Dept Environm, Ctr Integrat Res Conservat & Learning, York YO10 5DD, N Yorkshire, England; [Marshall, Andrew R.; Lovett, Jon] Flamingo Land Ltd, Malton, N Yorkshire, England; [Ah-Peng, Claudine] Univ Reunion, St Denis, Reunion; [Aplet, Gregory H.] Wilderness Soc, Denver, CO USA; [del Coro Arizmendi, M.] Univ Nacl Autonoma Mexico, Ecol Lab, Mexico City 04510, DF, Mexico; [Baker, William J.; Utteridge, Timothy M. A.] Royal Bot Gardens, Surrey, England; [Barone, John] Columbus State Univ, Dept Biol, Columbus, GA USA; [Bruehl, Carsten A.] Univ Koblenz Landau, Inst Environm Sci, Landau, Germany; [Bussmann, Rainer W.] Missouri Bot Garden, St Louis, MO USA; [Eilu, Gerald] Makerere Univ, Fac Forestry & Nat Conservat, Kampala, Uganda; [Hemp, Andreas; Hemp, Claudia] Lehrstuhl Tierokol 2, Bayreuth, Germany; [Homeier, Juergen] Univ Gottingen, Gottingen, Germany; [Hurtado, Johanna] Univ Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica; [Jankowski, Jill] Univ Florida, Dept Zool, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA; [Kattan, Gustavo] Pontificia Univ Javeriana, Dept Ciencias Nat & Matemat, Cali, Colombia; [Kroemer, Thorsten] Univ Veracruzana, Ctr Invest Trop, Xalapa 91000, Veracruz, Mexico; [Lees, David C.] Nat Hist Museum, Dept Entomol, London SW7 5BD, England; [Lehnert, Marcus] Staatliches Museum Nat Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany; [Longino, John T.] Evergreen State Coll, Olympia, WA 98505 USA; [Martin, Patrick H.] Colorado State Univ, Dept Hort & Landscape Architecture, Ft Collins, CO 80523 USA; [Patterson, Bruce D.] Field Museum Nat Hist, Chicago, IL 60605 USA; [Peh, Kelvin S-H] Univ Leeds, Sch Geog, Leeds LS2 9JT, W Yorkshire, England; [Richardson, Barbara; Richardson, Michael] Univ Puerto Rico Rio Piedras, Inst Trop Ecosyst Studies, San Juan, PR USA; [Samways, Michael J.] Univ Stellenbosch, Dept Conservat Ecol & Entomol, ZA-7600 Stellenbosch, South Africa; [Senbeta, Feyera] Univ Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; [Smith, Thomas B.] Univ Calif Los Angeles, Ctr Trop Res, Los Angeles, CA USA; [Wilson, Rohan] Australian Natl Univ, Res Sch Biol, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Reprint Adress

Laurance, WF (reprint author), James Cook Univ, Sch Marine & Trop Biol, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ethiopia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Poland
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
CNRS - Adress(es)

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