|Title||Global warming, elevational ranges and the vulnerability of tropical biota|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2010|
|Authors||Laurance, WF, Useche, DC, Shoo, LP, Herzo, SK, Kessler, M, Escobar, F, Brehm, G, Axmacher, JC, Chen, H, Arellano-Gamez, L, Hietz, P, Fiedler, K, Pyrcz, T, Wolf, J, Merkord, CL, Cardelus, C, Marshall, AR, Ah-Peng, C, Aplet, GH, Arizmendi, MC, Baker, G, Barone, J, Bruhl, CA, Bussmann, RW, Cicuzza, D, Eilu, G, Favila, ME, Hemp, A, Hemp, A, Homeier, J, Hurtado, J, Jakowski, J, Kattan, GH, Klug, J, Kromer, T, Leesa, DC, Lehnerta, M, Longinoa, JT, Lovett, G, Martina, PH, Patterson, BD, Pearson, HA, Peh, KSH, Richardson, B, Richardson, B, Samways, MJ, Senbeta, F, Smith, GC, Utteridge, TMA, Watkins, JE, Wilson, AI, Williams, SE, Thomas, SC|
|Keywords||Africa, Asia-Pacific, Biodiversity, Climate change, Elevational range, Endemism, Extinction, Global warming, Montane areas, Neotropics, Thermal tolerance, tropical ecosystems|
Tropical species with narrow elevational ranges may be thermally specialized and vulnerable to global warming. Local studies of distributions along elevational gradients reveal small-scale patterns but do not allow generalizations among geographic regions or taxa. We critically assessed data from 249 studies of species elevational distributions in the American, African, and Asia-Pacific tropics. Of these, 150 had sufficient data quality, sampling intensity, elevational range, and freedom from serious habitat disturbance to permit robust across-study comparisons. We found four main patterns: (1) species classified as elevational specialists (upper- or lower-zone specialists) are relatively more frequent in the American than Asia-Pacific tropics, with African tropics being intermediate; (2) elevational specialists are rare on islands, especially oceanic and smaller continental islands, largely due to a paucity of upper-zone specialists; (3) a relatively high proportion of plants and ectothermic vertebrates (amphibians and reptiles) are upper-zone specialists; and (4) relatively few endothermic vertebrates (birds and mammals) are upper-zone specialists. Understanding these broad-scale trends will help identify taxa and geographic regions vulnerable to global warming and highlight future research priorities.