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Climate Research

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CR 77:241-248 (2019)  -  DOI:

Impacts of future climate change on species richness of land vertebrates and critical areas in South Korea

Ju-Hyun Lee1, Hee-Jin Kang1, Ha-Cheol Sung2,*

1School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, and 2Research Center of Ecomimetics and Department of Biological Sciences, Chonnam National University, 61186 Gwangju, South Korea
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate change has extensive impacts on abundance, distribution, and conservation of species and ecosystems. The purpose of this study was to investigate impacts of future climate change on the species richness of land vertebrates, and to assess critical areas that might be continuously threatened by climate change in order to maintain high species richness in South Korea. The Climate Change Severity Index (CCSI) was calculated based on representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios to determine the climatic space (also known as comfort zone) of species and ecosystems under historic and future climate conditions. Regions with high species richness were then identified using survey results of species abundance and distribution. Finally, we identified critical areas with high CCSI values and high levels of species richness. These are areas where species and ecosystems are threatened the most by climate change. The number of critical areas is predicted to increase towards the late 2000s, and this increase is greater under RCP 8.5 than under RCP 4.5. Furthermore, the number of critical areas will increase more in coastal and wide plain areas than in inland mountainous areas. This study provides information useful for the conservation of species and their habitats in South Korea. It also indicates opportunities for launching protection measures and actions in highly vulnerable areas.

KEY WORDS: Climate Change Severity Index · Species richness · Critical area · RCP scenarios

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Cite this article as: Lee JH, Kang HJ, Sung HC (2019) Impacts of future climate change on species richness of land vertebrates and critical areas in South Korea. Clim Res 77:241-248.

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