Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1111/ddi.12898
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Predicting range shifts of Asian elephants under global change
Author Kanagaraj, R.; Araújo, M.B.; Barman, R.; Davidar, P.; De, R.; Digal, D.K.; Gopi, G.V.; Johnsingh, A.J.T.; Kakati, K.; Kramer‐Schadt, S.; Lamichhane, B.R.; Lyngdoh, S.; Madhusudan, M.D.; Ul Islam Najar, M.; Parida, J.; Pradhan, N.M.B.; Puyravaud, J.-P.; Raghunath, R.; Rahim, P.P.A.; Muthamizh Selvan, K.; Subedi, N.; Trabucco, A.; Udayraj, S.; Wiegand, T.; Williams, A.C.; Goyal, S.P.
Source Titel Diversity and Distributions
Year 2019
Department OESA; iDiv
Volume 25
Issue 5
Page From 822
Page To 838
Language englisch
Keywords Asian elephant; climate change; habitat loss; range shift; seasonality; South Asia; species distribution modelling; water balance


Climate change alters the water cycle, potentially affecting the distribution of species. Using an ensemble of species distribution models (SDMs), we predicted changes in distribution of the Asian elephant in South Asia due to increasing climatic variability under warming climate and human pressures.


India and Nepal.


We compiled a comprehensive geodatabase of 115 predictor variables, which included climatic, topographic, human pressures and land use, at a resolution of 1 km2, and an extensive database on current distribution of elephants. For variable selection, we first developed 14 candidate models based on different hypotheses on elephant habitat selection. For each candidate model, a series of 240 individual models were evaluated using several metrics. Using three climatic and one land use change datasets for two greenhouse gas scenarios, ensemble SDMs were used to predict future projections.


Nine predictor variables were selected for ensemble SDMs. Elephant distribution is driven predominantly by changes in climatic water balance (>60%), followed by changes in temperature and human‐induced disturbance. The results suggest that around 41.8% of the 256,518 km2 of habitat available at present will be lost by the end of this century due to combined effects of climate change and human pressure. Projected habitat loss will be higher in human‐dominated sites at lower elevations due to intensifying droughts, leading elephants to seek refuge at higher elevations along valleys with greater water availability in the Himalayan Mountains.

Main conclusions

Changes in climatic water balance could play a crucial role in driving species distributions in regions with monsoonal climates. In response, species would shift their range upwards along gradients of water availability and seasonal droughts. Conservation and management of elephant populations under global change should include design of movement corridors to enable dispersal of the elephant and other associated species to more conducive environments.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Kanagaraj, R., Araújo, M.B., Barman, R., Davidar, P., De, R., Digal, D.K., Gopi, G.V., Johnsingh, A.J.T., Kakati, K., Kramer‐Schadt, S., Lamichhane, B.R., Lyngdoh, S., Madhusudan, M.D., Ul Islam Najar, M., Parida, J., Pradhan, N.M.B., Puyravaud, J.-P., Raghunath, R., Rahim, P.P.A., Muthamizh Selvan, K., Subedi, N., Trabucco, A., Udayraj, S., Wiegand, T., Williams, A.C., Goyal, S.P. (2019):
Predicting range shifts of Asian elephants under global change
Divers. Distrib. 25 (5), 822 - 838 10.1111/ddi.12898