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Global Warming, Elevational Range Shifts, and Lowland Biotic Attrition in the Wet Tropics

Science  10 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5899, pp. 258-261
DOI: 10.1126/science.1162547

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Abstract

Many studies suggest that global warming is driving species ranges poleward and toward higher elevations at temperate latitudes, but evidence for range shifts is scarce for the tropics, where the shallow latitudinal temperature gradient makes upslope shifts more likely than poleward shifts. Based on new data for plants and insects on an elevational transect in Costa Rica, we assess the potential for lowland biotic attrition, range-shift gaps, and mountaintop extinctions under projected warming. We conclude that tropical lowland biotas may face a level of net lowland biotic attrition without parallel at higher latitudes (where range shifts may be compensated for by species from lower latitudes) and that a high proportion of tropical species soon faces gaps between current and projected elevational ranges.

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