Defense Date

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Daniel J McGarvey

Second Advisor

Rodney J Dyer

Third Advisor

Catherine B Viverette

Abstract

Accounts of species’ range shifts in response to climate change, most often as latitudinal shifts towards the poles or upslope shifts to higher elevations, are rapidly accumulating. These range shifts are often attributed to species ‘tracking’ their thermal niches as temperatures in their native ranges increase. Our objective was to estimate the degree to which climate change-driven shifts in water temperature may increase the exposure of West Virginia’s native freshwater fishes to mountaintop removal surface coal mining. Mid-century shifts in habitat suitability for nine non-game West Virginia fishes were projected via Maximum Entropy species distribution modeling, using a combination of physical habitat, historical climate conditions, and future climate data. Modeling projections for a high-emissions scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5) predict that habitat suitability will increase in high elevation streams for eight of nine species, with marginal increases in habitat suitability ranging from 46-418%. We conclude that many West Virginia fishes will be at risk of increased exposure to mountaintop removal surface coal mining if climate change continues at a rapid pace.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

4-13-2018

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