Current and future ranges of an elusive North American insect using species distribution models
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Nearly all of Earth’s ecosystems are suffering rapid and intense environmental changes, pushing species extinction rates to levels higher than those previously observed in past mass-extinction events. In this context, the ongoing effects of climate change are expected to cause severe impacts on biodiversity in the near- to medium-term future. Yet, the lack of knowledge concerning the geographic distributions of species is an important drawback to the efficacy of practical actions towards species conservation. Species distribution models (SDMs) may help to overcome these knowledge shortfalls and evaluate the potential effects of climate change upon species distributions. Here, we made use of these tools to measure the potential effects of future climate change upon the distribution of Merope tuber Newman (Mecoptera: Meropeidae). Our SDM results show that the range of the species is expected to increase under almost all modeling methods employed. Such a change in range is mainly related to a poleward shift. Practically nothing is known about M. tuber’s ecology, but nonetheless, the future climate changes are expected to affect the species’ ecological features. This reinforces the need to increase resources for field surveys of this (and other) insect lineages. Such measures will provide more robust information on the biological and ecological attributes of species, allowing stakeholders to design more efficient tools to protect this species before human-related activities impose irreversible negative impacts.
KeywordsClimate change Models Range change Sampling bias Information shortfalls
AFAA received a fellowship from Coordenação para o Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—CAPES. DMM and JEAV would like to thank Instituto Federal Goiano (IFGoiano), campus Urutaí, for an undergraduate scholarship offered to them during the development of this study. JPJO would like to thank the Programa de Educação Tutorial (PET/MEC/SESu) from IFGoiano for a scholarship offered during his undergraduate course.
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