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Keywords:

  • Ecological habitat models;
  • Habitat shift;
  • Migration;
  • Potential refugia;
  • Risk surfaces

Abstract

Questions: Are there any sustainable or vulnerable habitats in which beech (Fagus crenata) forests could survive in Japan under 110 hypothetical climate change scenarios?

Location: Six islands of Japan on which beech grows naturally.

Methods: An ecological habitat model was used to simulate the potential habitat shifts of beech forests under 110 climate change scenarios. The amount of suitable habitat loss and gain was calculated with three migration options and risk surfaces. Vulnerable and sustainable habitats were identified to evaluate the potential risks and survival of beech forests.

Results: The total areas of potential suitable habitats differed considerably depending on the future temperature and precipitation changes. Some areas on the Sea of Japan (SOJ) side showed higher probability of maintaining suitable habitats, whereas there were wider areas in which suitable habitats could not persist under any of the 110 climate change scenarios.

Conclusions: The risk surfaces of the suitable habitats showed that decreases in precipitation along with increases in temperature reduced the total areas of suitable habitats. Increases in precipitation with increases in temperature of more than or equal to 2°C always reduce the areas of suitable habitats. Under increased precipitation with a temperature increase of <2°C, the areas of suitable habitats showed an increase, maintenance of the status quo or a decrease, depending on the size of the increase in precipitation. Beech forests in western Japan are predicted to be vulnerable to climate change, whereas some mountains on the SOJ side are predicted to be possible future refugia.