Climate change-based models predict range shifts in the distribution of the only Asian plethodontid salamander: Karsenia koreana
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Populations see their range fluctuate in relation to environmental variations, including climate change, and their survival is linked to the maintenance of large enough populations and broad enough distributions during these variations. Most amphibian populations are threatened by numerous ecological and anthropogenic variables acting in synergy with climate change. Accumulating basic ecological data such as range enables the development of population and range dynamics, themselves resulting on adequate conservation plans. Karsenia koreana is the only known Asian plethodontic salamander, occurring in a very restricted area only. Based on presence data, we created an ecological model using six bioclimatic factors with low multicollinearity to define the adequate habitat of the species, and we modelled the predicted suitability of the Korean landscape following four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) predicting climate change scenarios based on CO2 concentrations in 2050 and 2070. The maximum entropy model for the current distribution produced a landscape suitability considerably wider than the current known distribution. The projected ranges for each RCP indicated marked increases, decreases and shifts in areas with suitable landscapes due to climate change. The lowest RCP prediction resulted in an increase in suitable area, although potentially without connectivity with current populations, while the highest RCP predictions resulted in a decrease. Our results highlight the potential negative impact of climate change, thus requiring updates in conservation plans for K. koreana. The methods used here can be replicated with any land-dwelling species, and our results reflect expected range shifts for most amphibians of the northern hemisphere.