Range contraction and loss of genetic variation of the Pyrenean endemic newt Calotriton asper due to climate change
MetadataShow full item record
Many studies have identified climate warming to be among the most important threats to biodiversity. Climate change is expected to have stronger effects on species with low genetic diversity, ectothermic physiology, small ranges, low effective populations sizes, specific habitat requirements and limited dispersal capabilities. Despite an ever-increasing number of studies reporting climate change-induced range shifts, few of these have incorporated species' specific dispersal constraints into their models. Moreover, the impacts of climate change on genetic variation within populations and species have rarely been assessed, while this is a promising direction for future research. Here we explore the effects of climate change on the potential distribution and genetic variation of the endemic Pyrenean newt Calotriton asper over the period 2020-2080. We use species distribution modelling in combination with high-resolution gridded climate data while subsequently applying four different dispersal scenarios. We furthermore use published data on genetic variation of both mtDNA and AFLP loci to test whether populations with high genetic diversity (nucleotide diversity and expected heterozygosity) or evolutionary history (unique haplotypes and K clusters) have an increased extinction risk from climate change. The present study indicates that climate change drastically reduces the potential distribution range of C. asper and reveals dispersal possibilities to be minimal under the most realistic dispersal scenarios. Despite the major loss in suitable climate, the models highlight relatively large stable areas throughout the species core distribution area indicating persistence of populations over time. The results, however, show a major loss of genetic diversity and evolutionary history. This highlights the importance of accounting for intraspecific genetic variation in climate change impact studies. Likewise, the integration of species' specific dispersal constraints into projections of species distribution models is an important step to fully explore the effects of climate change on species potential distributions.