Climate change is creating a mismatch between protected areas and suitable habitats for frogs and birds in Puerto Rico

Biological Conservation
By: , and 



Climate change is altering the spatial distribution of many species around the world. In response, we need to identify and protect suitable areas for a large proportion of the fauna so that they persist through time. This exercise must also evaluate the ability of existing protected areas to provide safe havens for species in the context of climate change. Here, we combined passive acoustic monitoring, semi-automatic species identification models, and species distribution models of 21 bird and frog species based on past (1980–1989), present (2005–2014), and future (2040–2060) climate scenarios to determine how species distributions relate to the current distribution of protected areas in Puerto Rico. Species detection/non-detection data were acquired across ~ 700 sampling sites. We developed always-suitable maps that characterized suitable habitats in all three time periods for each species and overlaid these maps to identify regions with high species co-occurrence. These distributions were then compared with the distribution of existing protected areas. We show that Puerto Rico is projected to become dryer by 2040–2060, and precipitation in the warmest quarter was among the most important variables affecting bird and frog distributions. A large portion of always-suitable areas (ASA) is outside of protected areas (> 80%), and the percent of protected areas that overlaps with always-suitable areas is larger for bird (75%) than frog (39%) species. Our results indicate that present protected areas will not suffice to safeguard bird and frog species under climate change; however, the establishment of larger protected areas, buffer zones, and connectivity between protected areas may allow species to find suitable niches to withstand environmental changes.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Climate change is creating a mismatch between protected areas and suitable habitats for frogs and birds in Puerto Rico
Series title Biological Conservation
DOI 10.1007/s10531-021-02258-9
Volume 30
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Springer Link
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta, Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center
Description 20 p.
First page 3509
Last page 3528
Country United States
State Puerto Rico
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details