Meeting Abstract

P1.190  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Predicting extinction due to global climate change TRACY, Chris/T; TODD, Jennifer*; WAKELING, Stephanie; PIRTLE, Elia; TRACY, C/Richard; University of Melbourne; University of Nevada Reno; University of Nevada Reno; University of Nevada Reno; University of Nevada Reno dtracy@unr.edu

Recent literature has included multifarious publications estimating the vulnerability of species to extirpation or extinction due to environmental change caused by global warming. Predictions of extinction risk are generally estimated from what is known about life histories, physiology, and trends in climate change. However, there is a dearth of information about how species can avoid extinction in the face of environmental change. How can populations avoid extirpation? (1) Individuals in the population could move to a new location where climate change is mitigated (e.g., higher elevations). (2) Individuals could change their activity to times (daily or seasonally) during which times the effects of climate change are mitigated. (3) Individuals might have seasonally adjustable physiologies allowing individuals to function well in newly extreme environments; thus, the magnitude of climate change might be small relative to the physiological flexibility of individuals. (4) Individuals could evolve to become well suited to new environmental conditions under climate change. Thus, moving, adjusting physiology or behavior, or evolving in the face of climate change could annul the effects of climate change in ways that reduce a population’s vulnerability to extinction. It would seem, then, that reliable predictions of extinction risk require scientific testing of the extent to which populations can avoid extinction, and each of the mechanisms listed above should serve as requisite, testable hypotheses before credible predictions of extinction can be made.