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The impacts of climate change on the wintering distribution of an endangered migratory bird


There is now ample evidence of the effects of anthropogenic climate change on the distribution and abundance of species. The black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) is an endangered migratory species and endemic to East Asia. Using a maximum entropy approach, we predicted the potential wintering distribution for spoonbills and modeled the effects of future climate change. Elevation, human influence index and precipitation during the coldest quarter contributed most to model development. Five regions, including western Taiwan, scattered locations from eastern coastal to central mainland China, coastal areas surrounding the South China Sea, northeastern coastal areas of Vietnam and sites along the coast of Japan, were found to have a high probability of presence and showed good agreement with historical records. Assuming no limits to the spread of this species, the wintering range is predicted to increase somewhat under a changing climate. However, three currently highly suitable regions (northeastern Vietnam, Taiwan and coastal areas surrounding the South China Sea) may face strong reductions in range by 2080. We also found that the center of the predicted range of spoonbills will undergo a latitudinal shift northwards by as much as 240, 450, and 600 km by 2020, 2050 and 2080, respectively. Our findings suggest that species distribution modeling can inform the current and future management of the black-faced spoonbill throughout Asia. It is clear that a strong international strategy is needed to conserve spoonbill populations under a changing climate.

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We are grateful to Steven Phillips for adapting the Maxent application several times to allow us to execute the models here, and to all those who contributed to the International Black-faced Spoonbill Census. We thank Feng Xiao, Peng Luo, Yunhai Guo, Xiaoge Ping and Philippe Chouteau for help with earlier versions of the manuscript. Our work was supported by Science and Technology Supporting Project of MOST (2008BAC39B04), the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (30770311), and Field Station Foundation of Guangdong Academy of Sciences (2008, 2009).

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Correspondence to Zhigang Jiang.

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Communicated by Chris Whelan.

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Hu, J., Hu, H. & Jiang, Z. The impacts of climate change on the wintering distribution of an endangered migratory bird. Oecologia 164, 555–565 (2010).

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  • Climate change
  • Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)
  • East Asia
  • Maxent
  • Species distribution modeling
  • Species’ range shift
  • Wintering distribution