Current climate change is a major threat to biodiversity. Species unable to adapt or move will face local or global extinction and this is more likely to happen to species with narrow climatic and habitat requirements and limited dispersal abilities, such as amphibians and reptiles. Biodiversity losses are likely to be greatest in global biodiversity hotspots where climate change is fast, such as the Iberian Peninsula. Here we assess the impact of climate change on 37 endemic and nearly endemic herptiles of the Iberian Peninsula by predicting species distributions for three different times into the future (2020, 2050 and 2080) using an ensemble of bioclimatic models and different combinations of species dispersal ability, emission levels and global circulation models. Our results show that species with Atlantic affinities that occur mainly in the North-western Iberian Peninsula have severely reduced future distributions. Up to 13 species may lose their entire potential distribution by 2080. Furthermore, our analysis indicates that the most critical period for the majority of these species will be the next decade. While there is considerable variability between the scenarios, we believe that our results provide a robust relative evaluation of climate change impacts among different species. Future evaluation of the vulnerability of individual species to climate change should account for their adaptive capacity to climate change, including factors such as physiological climate tolerance, geographical range size, local abundance, life cycle, behavioural and phenological adaptability, evolutionary potential and dispersal ability.
Journal: Global Change Biology