The impact of sea-level rise on Snowy Plovers in Florida: Integrating geomorphological, habitat, and metapopulation models

Matthew E. Aiello-Lammens, Ma Librada Chu-Agor, Matteo Convertino, Richard A. Fischer, Igor Linkov, H. Resit Akçakaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Sea-level rise (SLR) is a projected consequence of global climate change that will result in complex changes in coastal ecosystems. These changes will cause transitions among coastal habitat types, which will be compounded by human-made barriers to the gradual inland migration of these habitat types. The effect of these changes on the future viability of coastal species will depend on the habitat requirements and population dynamics of these species. Thus, realistic assessments of the impact of SLR require linking geomorphological models with habitat and population models. In this study, we implemented a framework that allows this linkage, and demonstrated its feasibility to assess the effect of SLR on the viability of the Snowy Plover population in Florida. The results indicate that SLR will cause a decline in suitable habitat and carrying capacity for this species, and an increase in the risk of its extinction and decline. The model projected that the population size will decline faster than the area of habitat or carrying capacity, demonstrating the necessity of incorporating population dynamics in assessing the impacts of SLR on coastal species. The results were most sensitive to uncertainties in survival rate and fecundity, and suggested that future studies on this species should focus on the average and variability of these demographic rates and their dependence on population density. The effect of SLR on this species' viability was qualitatively similar with most alternative models that used the extreme values of each uncertain parameter, indicating that the results are robust to uncertainties in the model. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3644-3654
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Charadrius alexandrinus
  • Climate change
  • Coastal land-cover
  • Demographic modeling
  • MaxEnt
  • Population viability analysis
  • Species distribution modeling


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