Conservation biogeography, mechanisms of decline, and climate relationships of California wildlife
Life on earth is in the midst of an extinction crisis. Modern rates of extinction are comparable to rates of extinction during the five mass extinction events of the Phanerozoic. While habitat loss and invasive species have been dominant historical drivers of extinction, climate change is projected to emerge as a codominant driver of extinction during the 21st century. This dissertation explores the impacts of climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species on California wildlife with the goal of providing information that will assist in conserving biodiversity. Two themes that unite this dissertation are conservation biogeography and climate change. The first two chapters focus on historical and projected climate-mediated range contraction in a species that appears to be threatened almost entirely by climate change, as opposed to other sources of decline. Chapter three assesses the vulnerability of twenty California mammal species to climate change and includes consideration of land use, hydroclimatic niche, dispersal ability, sea level rise, and species traits. Chapter four explores strategies for recovering one of the first species to be protected under endangered species law in the context of habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, habitat protection, and potential for habitat restoration on retired farmland.