Disappearing climates will limit the efficacy of Amazonian protected areas

Kenneth J. Feeley, Miles R. Silman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Amazonian forests support high biodiversity and provide valuable ecosystem services. Unfortunately, these forests are under extreme pressure from land use change and other anthropogenic disturbances. A recent study combined data from an Amazon-wide network of forest inventory plots with spatially explicit deforestation models to predict that by 2050, 36% or 57% of species will be ‘globally threatened’, as defined by IUCN Red List criteria, due to deforestation under Increased-Governance or Business-As-Usual scenarios, respectively. It was also predicted that the number of threatened species will drop by 29–44% if no deforestation occurs within protected areas. However, even the best-protected areas of the Amazon may still be susceptible to the effects of climate change and rising temperatures. To illustrate the potential dangers of climate change for Amazonian parks, we calculated the percentage of land area within all officially designated protected areas of tropical South America that will or will not have future temperature analogs under various scenarios of temperature change and park connectivity. We show that depending on the rate of warming and degree of connectivity, about 19–67% of protected areas will not have any temperature analogs in the near future (2050s). These results help to emphasize that protected areas are not immune to the effects of climate change and that large portions of Amazonian protected areas include ‘disappearing climates’. In the face of these disappearing climates, the biggest determinant of many species’ extinction risks may be their ability to migrate through non-protected habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1084
Number of pages4
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazon
  • Red List
  • climate change
  • extinction
  • global warming
  • landscape connectivity
  • species migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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