Neophyte species richness at the landscape scale under urban sprawl and climate warming


  • Michael P. Nobis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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  • Jochen A. G. Jaeger,

    1. Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, Suite H1255, Montréal, QC, Canada H3G 1M8
    2. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, Department of Environmental Sciences, Institute for Terrestrial Ecosystems, Universitätstrasse 22 CHN, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
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  • Niklaus E. Zimmermann

    1. Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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*Michael P. Nobis, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Biodiversity & Conservation Biology, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.


Aim  Land use and climate are two major components of global environmental change but our understanding of their simultaneous and interactive effects upon biodiversity is still limited. Here, we investigated the relationship between the species richness of neophytes, i.e. non-native vascular plants introduced after 1500 AD, and environmental covariates to draw implications for future dynamics under land-use and climate change.

Location  Switzerland, Central Europe.

Methods  The distribution of vascular plants was derived from a systematic national grid of 1 km2 quadrates (n = 456; Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring programme) including 1761 species, 122 of which were neophytes. Generalized linear models (GLMs) were used to correlate neophyte species richness with environmental covariates. The impact of land-use and climate change was thereafter evaluated by projections for the years 2020 and 2050 using scenarios of moderate and strong changes for climate warming (IPCC) and urban sprawl (NRP 54).

Results  Mean annual temperature and the amount of urban areas explained neophyte species richness best, with a high predictive power of the corresponding model (cross-validated D2 = 0.816). Climate warming had a stronger impact on the potential increase in the mean neophyte species richness (up to 191% increase by 2050) than ongoing urban sprawl (up to 10% increase) independently from variable interactions and model extrapolations to non-analogue environments.

Main conclusions  In contrast to other vascular plants, the prediction of neophyte species richness at the landscape scale in Switzerland requires few variables only, and regions of highest species richness of the two groups do not coincide. The neophyte species richness is basically driven by climatic (temperature) conditions, and urban areas additionally modulate small-scale differences upon this coarse-scale pattern. According to the projections climate warming will contribute to the future increase in neophyte species richness much more than ongoing urbanization, but the gain in new neophyte species will be highest in urban regions.