Variable choice affects estimations of vulnerability to climate change

Krista N. Oswald, Shannon R. Conradie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For practical reasons, assessments of species' vulnerability to rising temperatures are often limited to measuring responses to a single ecological response variable, but this could result in an underestimation of vulnerability. Using the Cape Rockjumper Chaetops frenatus (‘Rockjumper’) we examined the thermal risk to nestling Rockjumpers for sublethal (i.e. reduced nestling mass gain) and lethal (i.e. increased nest predation) consequences of sustained hot weather under both current and predicted future climatic conditions (RCP 8.5). We used a direct approach to examine these risks, first as independent ecological responses and then as combined risk driven by both response variables (mass gain and predation risk). This study revealed that the inclusion of multiple climate-related responses affected the predicted vulnerability to climate change. Further, our analyses showed that increased vulnerability to climate change will vary within the Rockjumper's habitat. Our results demonstrate that the variability in predicted thermal risk depends on which response variable was used, with implications for how and where conservation practitioners direct their already limited resources.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2023


  • climate change
  • ecological interactions
  • mechanistic modelling
  • species vulnerability
  • thermal risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Variable choice affects estimations of vulnerability to climate change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this