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Modelling the Potential Distribution of Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. nilotica (C.F. Gaertn) across the Kidepo Landscape of Uganda in the Face of Climate Change

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Document pages: 11 pages

Abstract: Climate change and human activities are increasingly linked with the extinction of species globally. In semi-arid regions, these pressures threaten the natural distribution and ecology of species. The threat that the shea butter tree (Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. nilotica) faces from human activity is well researched yet the sensitivity of its distribution to climate change remains barely known. We set out to assess the potential distribution of Vitellaria under different climate change scenarios using a MaxEnt. A current distribution model was first developed using only biophysical variables of soil type, temperature, precipitation, land use type, and elevation. This model was then projected onto two global warming scenarios (RCP 4.5 & RCP 8.5) for 2050 and 2070 using multi-model averages (BCC-CSM, CSM4, and MIROC5) derived from three general circulation models. Reductions are seen in distribution area across the landscape with soil type being the most important variable. These results draw useful implications for conservation of Vitellaria in that they show how it is vulnerable is to a changing climate as its natural range is mostly reduced. Since climate change is important in the distribution of the shea butter tree, the areas with highest suitability in this study can be used in establishing the Shea butter tree sustainable use zones area within the Kidepo Critical Landscape (KCL), Uganda.

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