Effective management of wildlife populations benefits from an understanding of the long-term vulnerability of species to anthropogenic stressors. Exposure to potential habitat change is one measure of vulnerability that is often used to assess and prioritize individual species or groups of species for resource allocation or direct management actions. We used species distribution models (SDMs) for 15 species occurring in the coastal plain ecoregion of Georgia, USA to estimate the current amount and distribution of potential habitat and then predict exposure to changes in habitat due to inundation from sea level rise (SLR; using the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model) and urban growth (using the Slope Land-use Excluded Urban Topology Hillshade Growth Model) for four future time points. Our results predict that all focal species were likely to experience some exposure to habitat change from either sea level rise or urbanization, but few species will experience high exposure to change from both stressors. Species that use salt marsh or beach habitats had the highest predicted exposure from SLR (25-69%), while species that use more inland habitats had the highest predicted exposure to urban growth (10-20%). Our models are a resource for managers considering tradeoffs between prioritization schemes under two future stressors. Results suggest that managers may need to prioritize species (or their habitats) based on the predicted magnitude of habitat loss, while also contextualizing prioritization with respect to the current amount of available protected habitat and species global vulnerability.
Prioritization of vulnerable species under scenarios of anthropogenic-driven change in Georgia’s coastal plain
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Elizabeth Paulukonis, Brian A. Crawford, John C. Maerz, Seth J. Wenger, Nate P. Nibbelink; Prioritization of vulnerable species under scenarios of anthropogenic-driven change in Georgia’s coastal plain. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.3996/JFWM-20-089
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