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Global patterns of climate change impacts on desert bird communities

Ma, Liang; Conradie, Shannon R.; Crawford, Christopher L.; Gardner, Alexandra S.; Kearney, Michael R.; Maclean, Ilya M. D.; McKechnie, Andrew E.; Mi, Chun-Rong; Senior, Rebecca A.; Wilcove, David S.

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Liang Ma

Shannon R. Conradie

Christopher L. Crawford

Alexandra S. Gardner

Michael R. Kearney

Ilya M. D. Maclean

Andrew E. McKechnie

Chun-Rong Mi

David S. Wilcove


The world’s warm deserts are predicted to experience disproportionately large temperature increases due to climate change, yet the impacts on global desert biodiversity remain poorly understood. Because species in warm deserts live close to their physiological limits, additional warming may induce local extinctions. Here, we combine climate change projections with biophysical models and species distributions to predict physiological impacts of climate change on desert birds globally. Our results show heterogeneous impacts between and within warm deserts. Moreover, spatial patterns of physiological impacts do not simply mirror air temperature changes. Climate change refugia, defined as warm desert areas with high avian diversity and low predicted physiological impacts, are predicted to persist in varying extents in different desert realms. Only a small proportion (<20%) of refugia fall within existing protected areas. Our analysis highlights the need to increase protection of refugial areas within the world’s warm deserts to protect species from climate change.


Ma, L., Conradie, S. R., Crawford, C. L., Gardner, A. S., Kearney, M. R., Maclean, I. M. D., …Wilcove, D. S. (2023). Global patterns of climate change impacts on desert bird communities. Nature Communications, 14(1), Article 211.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 13, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Nov 6, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 6, 2023
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 211
Keywords General Physics and Astronomy; General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Chemistry; Multidisciplinary
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