Projecting current and potential future distribution of the Fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina under climate change in north-eastern Germany

Abstract

Environmental change is likely to have a strong impact on biodiversity, and many species may shift their distribution in response. In this study, we aimed at projecting the availability of suitable habitat for an endangered amphibian species, the Fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina, in Brandenburg (north-eastern Germany). We modelled a potential habitat distribution map based on (1) a database with 10,581 presence records for Bombina from the years 1990 to 2009, (2) current estimates for ecogeographical variables (EGVs) and (3) the future projection of these EGVs according to the statistical regional model, respectively, the soil and water integrated model, applying the maximum entropy approach (Maxent). By comparing current and potential future distributions, we evaluated the projected change in distribution of suitable habitats and identified the environmental variables most associated with habitat suitability that turned out to be climatic variables related to the hydrological cycle. Under the applied scenario, our results indicate increasing habitat suitability in many areas and an extended range of suitable habitats. However, even if the environmental conditions in Brandenburg may change as predicted, it is questionable whether the Fire-bellied toad will truly benefit, as dispersal abilities of amphibian species are limited and strongly influenced by anthropogenic disturbances, that is, intensive agriculture, habitat destruction and fragmentation. Furthermore, agronomic pressure is likely to increase on productive areas with fertile soils and high water retention capacities, indeed those areas suitable for B. bombina. All these changes may affect temporary pond hydrology as well as the reproductive success and breeding phenology of toads.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, especially Ylva Hauf, Anne Holsten and Manfred Stock for providing climate, runoff and soil wetness data, and Martin Schluck and Julia Sauermann for the preparation of data and the Brandenburg map. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of the state of Brandenburg, the European Social Fund and the University of Potsdam. This is a publication of the graduate programme ‘Adaptive Nature Conservation under Climate Change’.

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Correspondence to R. Tiedemann.

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The first two authors share first authorship.

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Dolgener, N., Freudenberger, L., Schneeweiss, N. et al. Projecting current and potential future distribution of the Fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina under climate change in north-eastern Germany. Reg Environ Change 14, 1063–1072 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-013-0468-9

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Keywords

  • Brandenburg
  • Climate change
  • Distribution modelling
  • Endangered species
  • Fire-bellied toad
  • Maxent