Assessment of impact of climate change on Rhododendrons in Sikkim Himalayas using Maxent modelling: limitations and challenges

Abstract

Integration of climate change aspects in biodiversity management is one the fundamental requirements for long term biodiversity conservation. The explicit modelling of the biodiversity in response to climate change is the primary requirement for making any adaptation strategy. With Himalayan ecosystem in mind and Rhododendron as the species of concern, the current paper models the biogeography of the genera Rhododendron which are found intermixed in their spatial distribution in Sikkim Himalayas, mainly tree varieties, in response to climate change. The modelling algorithm used in the paper is Maxent (maximum entropy) which has estimated the target probability distribution by finding the probability distribution of Maxent. After projection of modelled bioclimatic layers to future climate scenario of SRES-A1B in Maxent, it was found that the suitable bioclimatic envelope for Rhododendron has shrunk considerably under the envisaged climate change scenario. The results on extent and locations of Rhododendron distributions in both the current and future climate scenarios provide a deep insight to the conservation planners about the kind of strategy that needs to be adopted for conserving Rhododendrons in the face of climate change. The challenges observed while doing this analysis highlight the gaps and set the agenda for further research to make the predictions of climate change driven impact on biodiversity scientifically more robust.

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Acknowledgments

This work was made possible due to ongoing inventorisation of species by Department of Forests, Environment and Wildlife Management, Government of Sikkim under the guidance of Mr S.T. Lachungpa. I owe my thanks to the IT assistant in the Remote Sensing and GIS Cell for data formatting. This work would not have reached its logical conclusion without the constant support and encouragement from Mrs Bharati.

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Correspondence to Pradeep Kumar.

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Kumar, P. Assessment of impact of climate change on Rhododendrons in Sikkim Himalayas using Maxent modelling: limitations and challenges. Biodivers Conserv 21, 1251–1266 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-012-0279-1

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Species distribution
  • Maximum entropy
  • Bioclimatic envelope