Climate-driven changes in Minnesota mammal species

Adaptation in Action Webinar Series

Tuesday, August 15, Noon to 1:00 p.m.

Climate change will result in species distributions shifting north over the next several decades. This will affect the distribution and abundance of mammal species in Minnesota. We used past trends in population size, climate envelope modeling, and recent observations to predict species responses to climate change in Minnesota. There will be more changes in species distributions in Minnesota than in other areas because Minnesota has prairie, northern hardwoods, and boreal forest biomes. Despite this, about half of current mammal species, including the short-tailed shrew, woodchuck, deer mouse, beaver, and white-tailed deer, should still be present throughout Minnesota 50 years in the future. About 20% of species will probably no longer be present because the southern edge of their species range will likely be in Canada. Example species include Canada lynx, moose, American marten, and northern flying squirrel. About 20% of species should increase their distribution across Minnesota. Example species include the opossum, gray squirrel, skunk, and bobcat. Among the caveats to these predictions are that dispersal rates of smaller mammals could be limiting and that the magnitude of future climate change is unknown. New species that might enter Minnesota include bats and small rodents. Over the last 200 years we have already seen changes in the distributions and abundances of the other 10% of mammal species in Minnesota, and we are entering a future without a historical analog with respect to rate of climate change.  

Dr. Ron Moen is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a Senior Research Associate with the Natural Resources Research Institute. Dr. Moen has studied many species in Minnesota over the last 30+ years, including moose, Canada lynx, white-tailed deer, bats, and wood turtles. Research topics range from physiological modeling to habitat use to population status. 

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Ron Moen