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Knowing the past to forecast the future: a case study on a relictual, endemic species of the SW Alps, Berardia subacaulis


Guerrina, Maria; Conti, Elena; Minuto, Luigi; Casazza, Gabriele (2016). Knowing the past to forecast the future: a case study on a relictual, endemic species of the SW Alps, Berardia subacaulis. Regional Environmental Change, 16(4):1035-1045.

Abstract

Future climate change may lead to a substantial loss of biodiversity, particularly affecting mountain regions, including the Alps. Range-size reduction in high mountain plant species is predicted to be more pronounced for endemic species. Investigating the broad temporal spectrum of range shifts is important for the conservation of biodiversity, since learning how species responded to climate change in the past provides useful insights on how they might react to warming trends in the present and future. Using species distribution models and an ensemble forecasting approach, we explored how the distribution of Berardia subacaulis, a monospecific genus endemic of the south-west Alps, may be affected by past and future projected climate change. During the last interglacial, the habitat suitability of Berardia was lower than present and a progressive increase was observed from the last glacial maximum until now. In the future, Berardia appears to lose more than 80 % of its range, becoming endangered by 2050. Our results suggest that Berardia probably survived past warmer periods in situ, expanding its distributional range during cooler periods. The severe future range contraction predicted for Berardia reflects similar results for other endemic species. As Berardia represents an interesting model species to evaluate the effects of climate warming on range size and shifts, demographic and precise range monitoring may be undertaken on this species.

Abstract

Future climate change may lead to a substantial loss of biodiversity, particularly affecting mountain regions, including the Alps. Range-size reduction in high mountain plant species is predicted to be more pronounced for endemic species. Investigating the broad temporal spectrum of range shifts is important for the conservation of biodiversity, since learning how species responded to climate change in the past provides useful insights on how they might react to warming trends in the present and future. Using species distribution models and an ensemble forecasting approach, we explored how the distribution of Berardia subacaulis, a monospecific genus endemic of the south-west Alps, may be affected by past and future projected climate change. During the last interglacial, the habitat suitability of Berardia was lower than present and a progressive increase was observed from the last glacial maximum until now. In the future, Berardia appears to lose more than 80 % of its range, becoming endangered by 2050. Our results suggest that Berardia probably survived past warmer periods in situ, expanding its distributional range during cooler periods. The severe future range contraction predicted for Berardia reflects similar results for other endemic species. As Berardia represents an interesting model species to evaluate the effects of climate warming on range size and shifts, demographic and precise range monitoring may be undertaken on this species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Palaeoendemic plant species, Ecological niche modelling, Glaciations, Global warming, Past climate change
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:08 Jul 2015 06:47
Last Modified:12 Jan 2017 12:55
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1436-3798
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0816-z

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