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Climate change threatens the future of rainforest ringtail possums by 2050

Citation

de la Fuente, Alejandro (2022), Climate change threatens the future of rainforest ringtail possums by 2050, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m63xsj44h

Abstract

Aim

The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather escalate the pressure of global warming on biodiversity. Globally, synergistic effects of multiple components of climate change have driven local extinctions and community collapses, raising concern about the irreversible deterioration of ecosystems. Here, we disentangle the pressure of different climatic components on the population dynamics of a tropical community of marsupials in a World Heritage Area.

Location

The Australian Wet Tropics.

Method

We analyse the potential influence of climate change in different dimensions, quantifying the effect of spatial differences in temperature exposure and observed increases in temperature and frequency of extreme heatwaves.

Results

We find a strong negative effect of climate change on population dynamics, particularly extreme heatwaves, resulting in a rapid and severe decline in ringtails’ population size in the last three decades.

Main conclusions

Forecasted increases in temperature and heatwaves threaten the collapse of the community by 2050, with ringtail possums falling below population viability thresholds within two decades.

Funding

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation

Wet Tropics Management Authority, Award: Climate action grant