CR 72:153-162 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01463

Global warming drives changes in carnivore communities in the North Sahara Desert

Yamna Karssene1,2,*, Mohsen Chammem2, Touhami Khorchani2, Said Nouira1, Fengqing Li3,*,**

1Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences de Tunis, Université de Tunis, El-Manar 2092, Tunisia
2Laboratoire d’Elevage et de la Faune Sauvage, Institut des Régions Arides de Médenine, 4119 Médenine, Tunisia
3Department of River Ecology and Conservation, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, 63571 Gelnhausen, Germany
*These authors contributed equally. **Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Global warming is among the most serious environmental challenges facing ecosystems worldwide, due to rising temperatures and altered precipitation regimes. The North African Sahara Desert is considered to be one of the areas most affected by climate change, which will probably lead to the likely retraction of the Mediterranean ecosystem and an increase in desertification. We examined the effect of global warming on 3 carnivore species (Canis anthus, Vulpes vulpes and V. zerda) in the North African Sahara Desert in the 2000s, 2030s, 2050s and 2080s using species distribution models. Species occurrence records were collected from 175 sites, covering all of the arid and desertified areas of Tunisia between January 2014 and January 2016. Our results show that elevation and annual mean temperature are the most important factors associated with the distribution of V. zerda, while temperature and precipitation have major contributions in the distribution of C. anthus and V. vulpes. Future climate change in the North Sahara will reduce the spatial distribution of suitable habitats for C. anthus and V. vulpes; V. zerda will decrease in numbers around the 2030s and increase again thereafter. Our findings suggest that the ongoing warming effect will cause continued range shifts in carnivores; thus there is an urgent need for efficient conservation practices for carnivores to be implemented in this climatically vulnerable area.


KEY WORDS: Desert carnivores · Global warming · North Sahara Desert · Species distribution model · Predicted distribution


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Cite this article as: Karssene Y, Chammem M, Khorchani T, Nouira S, Li F (2017) Global warming drives changes in carnivore communities in the North Sahara Desert. Clim Res 72:153-162. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01463

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