Assessing the effects of climate change on the distribution of pulmonate freshwater snail biodiversity
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Global warming is expected to profoundly change the characteristics of freshwater habitats. Increasing evaporation, lower oxygen concentration due to increased water temperatures and changes in precipitation pattern are likely to affect the survival and reproduction of pulmonate freshwater gastropods. Our statistical niche modelling analysis suggests that for a great proportion of the North-West European genera, the range sizes were predicted to decrease by 2,080, even if unlimited dispersal was assumed. The forecasted warming in the cooler northern ranges predicted the emergence of new suitable areas, as well as drastically reduced available habitat in the southern part of the studied region. Phylogenetic signal was inferred for one dimension of the climatic niche. Independent contrast analyses, taking into account the phylogenetic relationships between the taxa, showed a positive correlation between the genera’s climate niche width and the size of future suitable area. In summary, the results predict a profound faunal freshwater gastropod shift for Central Europe, either permitting the establishment of species currently living south of the studied region or permitting the proliferation of organisms relying on the same food resources, if dispersal abilities do not match the rate of climate change.