Multi-species distribution modelling highlights the Adelaide Geosyncline, South Australia, as an important continental-scale arid-zone refugium



The mainland portion of the Adelaide Geosyncline (Mount Lofty and Flinders Ranges) has been postulated as an important arid-zone climate refugium for Australia. To test the sensitivity of this putative Australian arid biome refugium to contemporary climate change, we compared Generalized Additive Modelling and MaxEnt distribution models for 20 vascular plant species. We aimed to identify shared patterns to inform priority areas for management. Models based on current climate were projected onto a hypothetical 2050 climate with a 1.5°C increase in temperature and 8% decrease in rainfall. Individual comparisons and combined outputs of logistic models for all 20 species showed range contraction to shared refugia in the Flinders Ranges and southern Mount Lofty Ranges. Modelling suggests the Flinders Ranges will experience species turnover while suitable climatic habitat will be retained in the Mount Lofty Ranges for the current suite of species. Fragmentation of the southern Mount Lofty Ranges poses management challenges for conserving species diversity with warming and drying. Although projected models must be interpreted carefully, they suggest the region will remain an important but threatened refugium for mesic species at a continental scale.