The effect of twenty-first-century climate change on biodiversity is commonly forecast based on modelled shifts in species ranges, linked to habitat suitability. These projections have been coupled with species–area relationships (SAR) to infer extinction rates indirectly as a result of the loss of climatically suitable areas and associated habitat. This approach does not model population dynamics explicitly, and so accepts that extinctions might occur after substantial (but unknown) delays—an extinction debt. Here we explicitly couple bioclimatic envelope models of climate and habitat suitability with generic life-history models for 24 species of frogs found in the Australian Wet Tropics (AWT). We show that (i) as many as four species of frogs face imminent extinction by 2080, due primarily to climate change; (ii) three frogs face delayed extinctions; and (iii) this extinction debt will take at least a century to be realized in full. Furthermore, we find congruence between forecast rates of extinction using SARs, and demographic models with an extinction lag of 120 years. We conclude that SAR approaches can provide useful advice to conservation on climate change impacts, provided there is a good understanding of the time lags over which delayed extinctions are likely to occur.
An invited contribution to the special feature ‘Biology of extinction: inferring events, patterns and processes’.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3491532.
- Received March 22, 2016.
- Accepted September 20, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.