Forecasted climate and land use changes, and protected areas: the contrasting case of spiders

Forecasted climate and land use changes, and protected areas: the contrasting case of spiders

Aim

To assess the exposure of 10 spider species to two drivers of global change (climate and land use), the suitability of the current network of protected areas with respect to this exposure, and the implications for a national conservation programme.

Location

The western Palearctic and France.

Methods

We predicted the current and future potential distributions of 10 spider species using species distribution models (SDMs). We explicitly quantified uncertainties in the models and estimated the future environmental suitability with discounted uncertainty. We analysed the predicted future suitability for protected versus unprotected occurrence cells.

Results

In this first forecast of the future of multiple spider species in the face of environmental changes, we showed that environmental changes could be confidently predicted to have serious impacts on all the studied species, with significant range contractions and expansions within a relatively short time-scale (up to 2050). We predicted that for seven of the 10 species, the current network of protected areas will conserve at least one occurrence cell in suitable conditions in the future. However, we showed that there is considerable room for improvement.

Main conclusions

This study illustrated how SDMs could be applied to a conservation programme for an understudied taxon such as spiders, in spite of significant uncertainties in their predictions. In addition, the uncertainties raised here compel us to emphasize the pressing need to improve our knowledge on understudied taxa such as spiders. We advocate the necessity of increasing monitoring schemes, experiments and forecasts of environmental change effects on a larger and more diversified range of species than is currently the case in the literature.

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