Assessing the impacts of climate change and land transformation on Banksia in the South West Australian Floristic Region


Colin J. Yates, Science Division, Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, LMB 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.


Aim  To determine the potential combined effects of climate change and land transformation on the modelled geographic ranges of Banksia.

Location  Mediterranean climate South West Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR).

Methods  We used the species distribution modelling software Maxent to relate current environmental conditions to occurrence data for 18 Banksia species, and subsequently made spatial predictions using two simple dispersal scenarios (zero and universal), for three climate-severity scenarios at 2070, taking the impacts of land transformation on species’ ranges into account. The species were chosen to reflect the biogeography of Banksia in the SWAFR.

Results  Climate-severity scenario, dispersal scenario, biogeographic distribution and land transformation all influenced the direction and magnitude of the modelled range change responses for the 18 species. The predominant response of species to all climate change scenarios was range contraction, with exceptions for some northern and widespread species. Including land transformation in estimates of modelled geographic range size for the three climate-severity scenarios generally resulted in smaller gains and larger declines in species ranges across both dispersal scenarios. Including land transformation and assuming zero dispersal resulted, as expected, in the greatest declines in projected range size across all species. Increasing climate change severity greatly increased the risk of decline in the 18 Banksia species, indicating the critical role of mitigating future emissions.

Main conclusions  The combined effects of climate change and land transformation may have significant adverse impacts on endemic Proteaceae in the SWAFR, especially under high emissions scenarios and if, as expected, natural migration is limiting. Although these results need cautious interpretation in light of the many assumptions underlying the techniques used, the impacts identified warrant a clear focus on monitoring across species ranges to detect early signs of change, and experiments that determine physiological thresholds for species in order to validate and refine the models.