Are different facets of plant diversity well protected against climate and land cover changes? A test study in the French Alps



Climate and land cover changes are important drivers of the plant species distributions and diversity patterns in mountainous regions. Although the need for a multifaceted view of diversity based on taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic dimensions is now commonly recognized, there are no complete risk assessments concerning their expected changes. In this paper, we used a range of species distribution models in an ensemble-forecasting framework together with regional climate and land cover projections by 2080 to analyze the potential threat for more than 2500 plant species at high resolution (2.5 × 2.5 km) in the French Alps. We also decomposed taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity facets into α and β components and analyzed their expected changes by 2080. Overall, plant species threats from climate and land cover changes in the French Alps were expected to vary depending on the species' preferred altitudinal vegetation zone, rarity, and conservation status. Indeed, rare species and species of conservation concern were the ones projected to experience less severe change, and also the ones being the most efficiently preserved by the current network of protected areas. Conversely, the three facets of plant diversity were also projected to experience drastic spatial re-shuffling by 2080. In general, the mean α-diversity of the three facets was projected to increase to the detriment of regional β-diversity, although the latter was projected to remain high at the montane-alpine transition zones. Our results show that, due to a high-altitude distribution, the current protection network is efficient for rare species, and species predicted to migrate upward. Although our modeling framework may not capture all possible mechanisms of species range shifts, our work illustrates that a comprehensive risk assessment on an entire floristic region combined with functional and phylogenetic information can help delimitate future scenarios of biodiversity and better design its protection.