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Current and past climate co‐shape community‐level plant species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic


Zemlianskii, Vitalii; Brun, Philipp; Zimmermann, Niklaus E; Ermokhina, Ksenia; Khitun, Olga; Koroleva, Natalia; Schaepman‐Strub, Gabriela (2024). Current and past climate co‐shape community‐level plant species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic. Ecology and Evolution, 14(3):e11140.

Abstract

The Arctic ecosystems and their species are exposed to amplified climate warming and, in some regions, to rapidly developing economic activities. This study assesses, models, and maps the geographic patterns of community‐level plant species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic and estimates the relative impact of environmental and anthropogenic factors driving these patterns. With our study, we aim at contributing toward conservation efforts for Arctic plant diversity in the Western Siberian Arctic. We investigated the relative importance of environmental and anthropogenic predictors of community‐level plant species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic using macroecological models trained with an extensive geobotanical dataset. We included vascular plants, mosses and lichens in our analysis, as non‐vascular plants substantially contribute to species richness and ecosystem functions in the Arctic. We found that the mean community‐level plant species richness in this vast Arctic region does not decrease with increasing latitude. Instead, we identified an increase in species richness from South‐West to North‐East, which can be well explained by environmental factors. We found that paleoclimatic factors exhibit higher explained deviance compared to contemporary climate predictors, potentially indicating a lasting impact of ancient climate on tundra plant species richness. We also show that the existing protected areas cover only a small fraction of the regions with highest species richness. Our results reveal complex spatial patterns of community‐level species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic. We show that climatic factors such as temperature (including paleotemperature) and precipitation are the main drivers of plant species richness in this area, and the role of relief is clearly secondary. We suggest that while community‐level plant species richness is mostly driven by environmental factors, an improved spatial sampling will be needed to robustly and more precisely assess the impact of human activities on community‐level species richness patterns. Our approach and results can be used to design conservation strategies and to investigate drivers of plant species richness in other arctic regions.

Abstract

The Arctic ecosystems and their species are exposed to amplified climate warming and, in some regions, to rapidly developing economic activities. This study assesses, models, and maps the geographic patterns of community‐level plant species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic and estimates the relative impact of environmental and anthropogenic factors driving these patterns. With our study, we aim at contributing toward conservation efforts for Arctic plant diversity in the Western Siberian Arctic. We investigated the relative importance of environmental and anthropogenic predictors of community‐level plant species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic using macroecological models trained with an extensive geobotanical dataset. We included vascular plants, mosses and lichens in our analysis, as non‐vascular plants substantially contribute to species richness and ecosystem functions in the Arctic. We found that the mean community‐level plant species richness in this vast Arctic region does not decrease with increasing latitude. Instead, we identified an increase in species richness from South‐West to North‐East, which can be well explained by environmental factors. We found that paleoclimatic factors exhibit higher explained deviance compared to contemporary climate predictors, potentially indicating a lasting impact of ancient climate on tundra plant species richness. We also show that the existing protected areas cover only a small fraction of the regions with highest species richness. Our results reveal complex spatial patterns of community‐level species richness in the Western Siberian Arctic. We show that climatic factors such as temperature (including paleotemperature) and precipitation are the main drivers of plant species richness in this area, and the role of relief is clearly secondary. We suggest that while community‐level plant species richness is mostly driven by environmental factors, an improved spatial sampling will be needed to robustly and more precisely assess the impact of human activities on community‐level species richness patterns. Our approach and results can be used to design conservation strategies and to investigate drivers of plant species richness in other arctic regions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:590 Animals (Zoology)
570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nature and Landscape Conservation, Ecology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:March 2024
Deposited On:25 Apr 2024 08:58
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:41
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISSN:2045-7758
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.11140
PubMed ID:38495434
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)