The impact of accelerating and fluctuating speeds of climate change on a population

Speaker: Jane Shaw MacDonald

Date: Wed, Apr 26, 2023

Location: PIMS, Online

Conference: Emergent Research: The PIMS Postdoctoral Fellow Seminar

Subject: Mathematics

Class: Scientific


Biological populations are responding to climate-driven habitat shifts by either adapting in place or moving in space to follow their suitable temperature regime. The shifting speeds of temperature isoclines fluctuate in time and empirical evidence suggests that they may accelerate over time. We present a mathematical tool to study both transient behaviour of population dynamics and persistence within such moving habitats to discern between populations at high and low risk of extinction. We introduce a system of reaction–diffusion equations to study the impact of varying shifting speeds on the persistence and distribution of a single species. Our model includes habitat-dependent movement behaviour and habitat preference of individuals. These assumptions result in a jump in density across habitat types. We build and validate a numerical finite difference scheme to solve the resulting equations. Our numerical scheme uses a coordinate system where the location of the moving, suitable habitat is fixed in space and a modification of a finite difference scheme to capture the jump in density. We apply this numerical scheme to accelerating and periodically fluctuating speeds of climate change and contribute insights into the mechanisms that support population persistence in transient times and long term.