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Keywords:

  • Carbon dioxide;
  • climate;
  • climatic change;
  • plant diversity;
  • species area relation

Abstract

We model plant species diversity globally by country to show that future plant diversity capacity has a strong dependence on changing climate and carbon dioxide concentration. CO2 increase, through its impact on net primary production and warming is predicted to increase regional diversity capacity, while warming with constant CO2 leads to decreases in diversity capacity. Increased CO2 concentrations are unlikely to counter projected extinctions of endemic species, shown in earlier studies to be more strongly dependent on changing land use patterns than climate per se. Model predictions were tested against (1) contemporary observations of tree species diversity in different biomes, (2) an independent global map of contemporary species diversity and (3) time sequences of plant naturalisation for different locations. Good agreements between model, observations and naturalisation patterns support the suggestion that future diversity capacity increases are likely to be filled from a ‘cosmopolitan weed pool’ for which migration appears to be an insignificant barrier.