Marc Graf

PDF der Diplomarbeit im Hochschulschriften-Service der Universität Wien

Forecasting effects of warming climate on the distribution of a high mountain bird in the Eastern Alps

Evaluating the impact of global climate change on biodiversity has become an essential component of current ecological research and conservation biology that allows predictions on changes of species’ distribution ranges. Recently, ecological niche modeling based on occurrence data and a set of climatic variables was employed more frequently to estimate effects of climate change on species. Here, the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set Prediction (GARP) was used to model the potential current geographic distribution of Snowfinches (Montifringilla nivalis) in the Eastern European Alps. Subsequently the future distribution range was predicted based on General Circulation Model (GCM) derived data for three future climate scenarios (2020, 2050 and 2080).
Results suggest that bird species such as Snowfinches, exclusively inhabiting altitudes above the tree line, could face a decline of inhabitable areas up to 15 percent by the year 2080 caused by an upward shift of suitable habitat towards higher altitudes. This study provides evidence that global climate change affects high mountain bird species such as Montifringilla nivalis and emphasizes the need for further research of climate change caused effects on montane species and ecosystems regarding the development of future conservation strate.