Amphibian responses in the aftermath of extreme climate events
Climate change-induced extinctions are estimated to eliminate one in six known species by the end of the century. One major factor that will contribute to these extinctions is extreme climatic events. Here, we show the ecological impacts of recent record warm air temperatures and simultaneous peak drought conditions in California. From 2008-2016, the southern populations of a wide-ranging endemic amphibian (the California newt, Taricha torosa) showed a 20% reduction to mean body condition and significant losses to variation in body condition linked with extreme climate deviations. However, body condition in northern populations remained relatively unaffected during this period. Range-wide population estimates of change to body condition under future climate change scenarios within the next 50 years suggest that northern populations will mirror the loss of body condition recently observed in southern populations. This change is predicated on latter 21st century climate deviations that resemble recent conditions in Southern California. Thus, the ecological consequences of climate change have already occurred across the warmer, drier regions of Southern California, and our results suggest that predicted climate vulnerable regions in the more mesic northern range likely will not provide climate refuge for numerous amphibian communities.
Bucciarelli, Gary M.; Clark, Morgan A.; Delaney, Katy S.; Riley, Seth P.D.; Shaffer, H. Bradley; Fisher, Robert N.; Honeycutt, Rodney L.; and Kats, Lee B., "Amphibian responses in the aftermath of extreme climate events" (2020). Pepperdine University, Faculty Open Access Publications. Paper 46.