Projected climate change effects on Rocky Mountain and Great Plains birds: generalities of biodiversity consequences


A. Townsend Peterson, fax (785) 864 5335, e-mail:


Climate change effects on biodiversity are already manifested, and yet no predictive knowledge characterizes the likely nature of these effects. Previous studies suggested an influence of topography on these effects, a possibility tested herein. Bird species with distributions restricted to montane (26 species) and Great Plains (19 species) regions of central and western North America were modeled, and climate change effects on their distributions compared: in general, plains species were more heavily influenced by climate change, with drastic area reductions (mode 35% of distributional area lost under assumption of no dispersal) and dramatic spatial movements (0–400 km shift of range centroid under assumption of no dispersal) of appropriate habitats. These results suggest an important generality regarding climate change effects on biodiversity, and provide useful guidelines for conservation planning.