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Amphibian distributions and extinction risk in China under climate and land use change Open Access


Other title
Biodiversity conservation
Ecological Modeling
Statistical ecology
Extinction debt
Amphibian extinction
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chen, Youhua
Supervisor and department
He, Fangliang (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Poesch, Mark (Renewable Resources)
Wheatley, Matthew (Renewable Resources)
Green, David (Redpath Museum, McGill University)
Nielsen, Scott (Renewable Resources)
Lewis, Mark (Mathematical and Statistical Sciences)
Department of Renewable Resources
Conservation biology
Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Species extinctions are inevitable, irreversible and a time-delayed process that is accelerating due to the warming climate and the loss of habitats worldwide. The most threatened vertebrate group in terrestrial ecosystems is amphibians. In this thesis, I assess potential range shifts and extinction risks of amphibians in China, and test whether the current distribution of protected areas is effective in protecting amphibian habitats both today and under conditions imposed by climate and land use change in the future. This was done by use of circular statistics, metapopulation models, climate velocity algorithms and ensemble species distribution modeling. Overall, I found: (1) large conservation (protected area) gaps were found throughout China and especially the southern parts of Tibet and the Hengduan Mountains, an amphibian diversity hotspot vulnerable to climate change and human activities; (2) correlations between directional range shift of species and climate velocity were evident with range shifts of amphibians in China being mostly tri-directional in pattern, preferring northern, eastern or northeastern directions for different dispersal scenarios and climatic data used; (3) relaxation time of extinction debt for amphibians in China was related to the strength of the Allee effect, forest cover change and the trade-off between colonization and emigration rates. Metapopulation models, with and without Allee effects, estimated average time to half extinction for endemic amphibians of China to be 44.9 and 71.8 years, respectively. Collectively, this thesis research identifies regional conservation needs of amphibians, fuels the development and application of novel statistical methods in the estimate of species extinction, and paves the ways for future studies on extinction debt modeling.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
Citation for previous publication
Chen Y, Zhang J, Jiang J, Nielsen SE, He F (2017) Assessing the effectiveness of China's protected areas to conserve current and future amphibian diversity. Diversity and Distributions, 23, 146-157.

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