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


We assess how effectively the current network of protected areas (PAs) across the Iberian Peninsula will conserve plant diversity under near-future (2020) climate change. We computed 3267 MAXENT environmental niche models (ENMs) at 1-km spatial resolution for known Iberian plant species under two climate scenarios (1950-2000 baseline & 2020). To predict near-future species distributions across the network of Iberian and Balearics PAs, we combined projections of species’ ENMs with simulations of propagule dispersal by using six scenarios of annual dispersal rates (no dispersal, 0.1 km, 0.5 km, 1 km, 2 km and unlimited). Mined PA grid cell values for each species were then analyzed. We forecast 3% overall floristic diversity richness loss by 2020. The habitat of regionally extant species will contract on average by 13.14%. Niche movement exceeds 1 km per annum for 30% of extant species. While the southerly range margin of northern plant species retracts northward at 8.9 km per decade, overall niche movement is more easterly and westerly than northerly. There is little expansion of the northern range margin of southern plant species even under unlimited dispersal. Regardless of propagule dispersal rate, altitudinal niche movement of +25 m per decade is strongest for northern species. Pyrenees flora is most vulnerable to near-future climate change with many northern plant species responding by shifting their range westerly and easterly rather than northerly. Northern humid habitats will be particularly vulnerable to near-future climate change. Andalusian National Parks will become important southern biodiversity refuges. With limited human intervention (particularly in the Pyrenees), we conclude that floristic diversity in Iberian PAs should withstand near-future climate change.

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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.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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