Relationships between life-history traits and extinction risk from climate change

A variety of studies have demonstrated that species displaying certain ecological and life history traits are more vulnerable to extinction than others. Most threatened species will be those with high intrinsic vulnerability and whose geographic range will suffer the most significant climatic variations. Thus, the life history and ecology of a species will be of pivotal importance in forecasting its fate under future environmental conditions. Biological traits commonly associated with elevated extinction risk, in particular due to climate change are specialized habitat requirements, narrow environmental tolerances, dependence on specific environmental triggers, dependence on interspecific interactions, poor ability to disperse to or colonize a new or more suitable range, low reproductive rates.

The interactions between life-history traits and species risk from climate change have been investigated in several studies for several taxonomic groups. Despite these efforts, little is known about the way to model species vulnerability to climate change due to biological traits at a global level. Mammals are an ideal taxonomic group to investigate this relationship because a lot of information is available on their biological characteristics, at least for the largest ones.

We compiled a comprehensive database of life-history traits of terrestrial non-volant mammals and we currently use these data to assess the exctinction risk of species from climate change due to their intrinsic characteristics.

For further information please contact Michela Pacifici