Can the Iberian Floristic Diversity Withstand Near-Future Climate Change?

Total modelled plant species per 1km grid cell over the Iberian Peninsula

Total modelled plant species per 1km grid cell over the Iberian
Peninsula

In the lastest paper from Marshall Heap’s thesis we discuss the impact of near-future climate change on plant species in the Iberian peninsular (Spain and Portugal).  3267 MAXENT environmental niche models (ENMs) at 1-km spatial resolution for known Iberian plant species under two climate scenarios (1950-2000 baseline & 2020) were generated using a compute cluster. This is the largest 1km scale modelling exercise for plant species yet published.

Directions and distance of movement of “persistent” species' centre of mass. Migration rates represent yearly species dispersal rates from other PAs: a) 0 km; b) 0.1 km; c) 0.5 km; d) 1 km; e) 2 km; f) unlimited.

Directions and distance of movement of “persistent” species’ centre of mass. Migration rates represent yearly species
dispersal rates from other PAs: a) 0 km; b) 0.1 km; c) 0.5 km; d) 1 km; e) 2 km; f) unlimited.

The models suggest that in the short term plant migrations appear to be likely to happen in Easterly and Westerly directions much more than has been suggested in other papers. Altitudinal migrations are similar to previous predictions.

Percentage climate-induced biodiversity change in Iberian PAs (a) between 1950:2000 and 2020 - zero species dispersal from other PAs. Zoom-in panel - Picos de Europa National Park. Yearly species dispersal rates from other PAs; zero (b), 1 km (c) & unlimited (d).

Percentage climate-induced biodiversity change in Iberian PAs (a) between 1950:2000 and 2020 – zero species
dispersal from other PAs. Zoom-in panel – Picos de Europa National Park. Yearly species dispersal rates from other PAs; zero (b), 1 km (c) & unlimited (d).

The current extensive network of Iberian Protected Areas is sufficient to meet immediate conservation needs but will not be sufficient to accommodate changes in plant distributions if greenhouse gas emissions continue at near the current rate. We forecast only 3% overall floristic diversity richness loss by 2020 and this could be mitigated by survival of remnant populations in microrefugia.  Long term risks remain higher and less readily predicatable.

Narrow endemics remain impossible to model for climate niche due to distributions covering two or fewer grid cells.  These species may or may not be susceptible to climate change and some may occupy microclimates that do not change in a pattern that follows the more general trend.

Heap, M. , Culham, A. , Lenoir, J. and Gavilán, R. (2014) Can the Iberian Floristic Diversity Withstand Near-Future Climate Change?. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 1089-1101. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.417089.

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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