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Current and future effects of global change on a hotspot's freshwater diversity

Gallardo, Belinda; Bogan, Arthur E.; Harun, Sahana; Jainih, Leonardo; Lopes-Lima, Manuel; Pizarro, Manuel; Rahim, Khairul Adha; Sousa, Ronaldo; Virdis, Salvatore G.P.; Zieritz, Alexandra


Belinda Gallardo

Arthur E. Bogan

Sahana Harun

Leonardo Jainih

Manuel Lopes-Lima

Manuel Pizarro

Khairul Adha Rahim

Ronaldo Sousa

Salvatore G.P. Virdis


Deforestation, climate change and invasive species constitute three global threats to biodiversity that act synergistically. However, drivers and rates of loss of freshwater biodiversity now and in the future are poorly understood. Here we focus on the potential impacts of global change on freshwater mussels (Order Unionida) in Sundaland (SE Asia), a vulnerable group facing global declines and recognized indicators of overall freshwater biodiversity. We used an ensemble of distribution models to identify habitats potentially suitable for freshwater mussels and their change under a range of climate, deforestation and invasion scenarios. Our data and models revealed that, at present, Sundaland features 47 and 32 Mha of habitat that can be considered environmentally suitable for native and invasive freshwater mussels, respectively. We anticipate that by 2050, the area suitable for palm oil cultivation may expand between 8 and 44 Mha, representing an annual increase of 2–11%. This is expected to result in a 20% decrease in suitable habitat for native mussels, a drop that reaches 30% by 2050 when considering concomitant climate change. In contrast, the habitat potentially suitable for invasive mussels may increase by 44–56% under 2050 future scenarios. Consequently, native mussels may compete for habitat, food resources and fish hosts with invasive mussels across approximately 60% of their suitable range. Our projections can be used to guide future expeditions to monitor the conservation status of freshwater biodiversity, and potentially reveal populations of endemic species on the brink of extinction. Future conservation measures—most importantly the designation of nature reserves—should take into account trends in freshwater biodiversity generally, and particularly species such as freshwater mussels, vital to safeguard fundamental ecosystem services.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 5, 2018
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2018
Publication Date Sep 1, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2019
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Print ISSN 0048-9697
Electronic ISSN 1879-1026
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 635
Pages 750-760
Keywords Environmental Engineering; Waste Management and Disposal; Pollution; Environmental Chemistry
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