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Climate change and conservation implications for wet meadows in dry Patagonia

  • RAMIRO D. CREGO (a1) (a2), CLAYTON K. NIELSEN (a1) (a2) (a3) and KARL A. DIDIER (a4)

Climate change is predicted to be a major threat for biodiversity and, from a conservation prospective, it is important to understand how ecosystems may respond to that change. Predicted climate change effects on the distribution of meadows in the arid and semi-arid Argentinean Patagonia by 2050 were assessed for change trends and areas of desertification vulnerability using species distribution models (SDM) and climate-change models. Four modelling techniques composed an ensemble-forecasting approach. Suitable areas for meadows will decrease by 7.85% by 2050 given predicted changes in climate. However, there were two contrasting trends: severe reduction of suitable areas for meadows in north-west Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Island, and an expansion of suitable areas for meadows in the south and a small section in the north-west. Meadows in Patagonia will likely be impacted by climate change, probably due to changes in precipitation regimes, and consequently many species that rely on meadows in an arid environment will also be impacted. Given the low level of protection of meadows in Patagonia, such information on meadow distribution and vulnerability to climate change will be important for increasing and improving the network of conservation areas through conservation planning.

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*Correspondence: Ramiro D. Crego Tel: +1 618 453 6947 Fax: +1 618 453 6944 e-mail:
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