Rosalino, L.M., Guedes, D., Cabecinha, D., Serronha, A., Grilo, C., Santos-Reis, M., Monterroso, P., Carvalho, J., Fonseca, C., Pardavila, X., Virgós, E. & Hipólito, D. (2019) Climate and landscape changes as driving forces for future range shift in southern populations of the European badger.Scientific Reports, 9, 3155. DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-39713-1 (IF2019 3,998; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Human-Induced Rapid Environmental Change (HIREC), particularly climate change and habitat conversion, affects species distributions worldwide. Here, we aimed to (i) assess the factors that determine range patterns of European badger (Meles meles) at the southwestern edge of their distribution and (ii) forecast the possible impacts of future climate and landcover changes on those patterns. We surveyed 272 cells of 5 × 5 km, to assess badger presence and confirmed its occurrence in 95 cells (35%). Our models estimate that badger’s presence is promoted by the occurrence of herbaceous fields and shrublands (5%–10%), and low proportions of Eucalyptus plantations (<~15%). Regions with >50% of podzols and eruptive rocks, higher sheep/goat density (>4 ind/km2), an absence of cattle, intermediate precipitation regimes (800–1000 mm/year) and mild mean temperatures (15–16 °C) are also more likely to host badgers. We predict a decrease in favourability of southern areas for hosting badgers under forecasted climate and landcover change scenarios, which may lead to a northwards retraction of the species southern distribution limit, but the overall landscape favourability is predicted to slightly increase. The forecasted retraction may affect community functional integrity, as its role in southern ecological networks will be vacant.