• bio-indication;
  • cellular automaton;
  • downy oak;
  • generalized additive model (GAM);
  • migration;
  • simRShift;
  • soil pH;
  • spatial fragmentation;
  • species refugia


Species distribution modelling is an easy, persuasive and useful tool for anticipating species distribution shifts under global change. Numerous studies have used only climate variables to predict future potential species range shifts and have omitted environmental factors important for determining species distribution. Here, we assessed the importance of the edaphic dimension in the niche-space definition of Quercus pubescens and in future spatial projections under global change over the metropolitan French forest territory. We fitted two species distribution models (SDM) based on presence/absence data (111 013 plots), one calibrated from climate variables only (mean temperature of January and climatic water balance of July) and the other one from both climate and edaphic (soil pH inferred from plants) variables. Future predictions were conducted under two climate scenarios (PCM B2 and HadCM3 A2) and based on 100 simulations using a cellular automaton that accounted for seed dispersal distance, landscape barriers preventing migration and unsuitable land cover. Adding the edaphic dimension to the climate-only SDM substantially improved the niche-space definition of Q. pubescens, highlighting an increase in species tolerance in confronting climate constraints as the soil pH increased. Future predictions over the 21st century showed that disregarding the edaphic dimension in SDM led to an overestimation of the potential distribution area, an underestimation of the spatial fragmentation of this area, and prevented the identification of local refugia, leading to an underestimation of the northward shift capacity of Q. pubescens and its persistence in its current distribution area. Spatial discrepancies between climate-only and climate-plus-edaphic models are strengthened when seed dispersal and forest fragmentation are accounted for in predicting a future species distribution area. These discrepancies highlight some imprecision in spatial predictions of potential distribution area of species under climate change scenarios and possibly wrong conclusions for conservation and management perspectives when climate-only models are used.