Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird

Ecology Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

Few regions have been more severely impacted by climate change in the USA than the Desert Southwest. Here, we use ecological genomics to assess the potential for adaptation to rising global temperatures in a widespread songbird, the willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii), and find the endangered desert southwestern subspecies (E. t. extimus) most vulnerable to future climate change. Highly significant correlations between present abundance and estimates of genomic vulnerability – the mismatch between current and predicted future genotype–environment relationships – indicate small, fragmented populations of the southwestern willow flycatcher will have to adapt most to keep pace with climate change. Links between climate‐associated genotypes and genes important to thermal tolerance in birds provide a potential mechanism for adaptation to temperature extremes. Our results demonstrate that the incorporation of genotype–environment relationships into landscape‐scale models of climate vulnerability can facilitate more precise predictions of climate impacts and help guide conservation in threatened and endangered groups.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ecological genomics predicts climate vulnerability in an endangered southwestern songbird
Series title Ecology Letters
DOI 10.1111/ele.12977
Volume 21
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 12 p.
First page 1085
Last page 1096