• SunsetatScotia (Custom)
    • [caption id="attachment_1045" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Jessica Sushinsky birding at Uluru - August 2010"]Jessica Sushinsky birding at Uluru - August 2010
Migratory connectivity magnifies the consequences of habitat loss from sea-level rise for shorebird populations
 

Iwamura, T., Possingham, H.P., Chadès, I., Minton, C., Murray, N.J., Rogers, D.I., Treml, E.A. & Fuller, R.A. 2013. Migratory connectivity magnifies the consequences of habitat loss from sea-level rise for shorebird populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281, 20130325.

Sea-level rise (SLR) will greatly alter littoral ecosystems, causing habitat change and loss for coastal species. Habitat loss is widely used as a measurement of the risk of extinction, but because many coastal species are migratory, the impact of habitat loss will depend not only on its extent, but also on where it occurs. Here, we develop a novel graph-theoretic approach to measure the vulnerability of a migratory network to the impact of habitat loss from SLR based on population flow through the network. We show that reductions in population flow far exceed the proportion of habitat lost for 10 long-distance migrant shorebirds using the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. We estimate that SLR will inundate 23–40% of intertidal habitat area along their migration routes, but cause a reduction in population flow of up to 72 per cent across the taxa. This magnifying effect was particularly strong for taxa whose migration routes contain bottlenecks—sites through which a large fraction of the population travels. We develop the bottleneck index, a new network metric that positively correlates with the predicted impacts of habitat loss on overall population flow. Our results indicate that migratory species are at greater risk than previously realized.

Read the paper online