Rapid decline and fragmentation of the distribution of an enigmatic small carnivore, the Owston’s Civet, in response to future climate change
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.21425/F5FBG53201
Indochina is known as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with populations of many endangered and/or endemic species dramatically declining due to a range of threats, such as illegal hunting, habitat destruction, and global climate change. Climate change is expected to alter the region’s habitat and ecosystem conditions, force contraction of species ranges, and increase the likelihood of local extinctions. Maxent is a widely used modelling approach to predict the species’ current potential distribution, project range shifts in response to climate change, and inform conservation planning. Here, we collated known records and built models for both present and future climatically suitable habitat of the Owston’s Civet (Chrotogale owstoni), an endangered and poorly studied small carnivore occurring in Vietnam, eastern Laos, and a small part of southern China. Projections of climatically suitable habitat for the civet in most climate change scenarios and timeframes suggest significant habitat loss and fragmentation within its current range as a consequence of upward contraction. We recommend that future conservation efforts for C. owstoni focus on key refugia spreading along the Annamite Range in the border area between Vietnam and Laos. To mitigate climate-related extinction risk, close cooperation between Vietnam and Laos’ governmental agencies, research institutions, and non-governmental conservation organizations will play an important role in conserving the remaining habitat of this endangered species.