A brighter shade of future climate on Himalayan musk deer Moschus leucogaster


Himalayan musk deer (Moschus leucogaster) is classified as an endangered species by IUCN with a historically misunderstood distribution due to misidentification with other species of musk deer, Moschus spp. Taking advantage of recent genetic analyses confirming the species of various populations in Nepal and China, we produced an accurate estimate of the species’ current and future distribution under multiple climate change scenarios. We collected high-quality occurrence data using systematic surveys of various protected areas of Nepal to train species distribution models. The most influential determinants of the distribution of Himalayan musk deer were precipitation of the driest quarter, temperature seasonality, and annual mean temperature. These variables, and precipitation in particular, determine the vegetation type and structure in the Himalaya, which is strongly correlated with the distribution of Himalayan musk deer. We predicted suitable habitats between the Annapurna and Kanchenjunga region of Nepal Himalaya as well as the adjacent Himalaya in China. Under multiple climate change scenarios, the vast majority (85–89%) of current suitable sites are likely to remain suitable and many new areas of suitable habitat may emerge to the west and north of the current species range in Nepal and China. Two-thirds of current and one-third of future suitable habitats are protected by the extensive network of protected areas in Nepal. The projected large gains in suitable sites may lead to population expansion and conservation gains, only when the threat of overexploitation and population decline is under control.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Kumar P. Mainali
Paras Bikram Singh
Michael Evans
Arjun Adhikari
Yiming Hu
Huijian Hu
Scientific Reports