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Global Change Biology

Climate change, plant migration, and range collapse in a global biodiversity hotspot: the Banksia (Proteaceae) of Western Australia

Authors

  • MATTHEW C. FITZPATRICK,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 569 Dabney Hall, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA,
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  • AARON D. GOVE,

    1. Department of Environmental Biology, Centre for Ecosystem Dynamics and Diversity, Curtin University of Technology, PO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845, Australia,
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    • 1Present address: Department of Botany, Stockholm University, SESE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.

  • NATHAN J. SANDERS,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 569 Dabney Hall, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA,
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  • ROBERT R. DUNN

    1. Department of Zoology, 120 David Clark Labs, North Carolina State University, Box 7617, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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Matthew C. Fitzpatrick, fax +1 865 974 3067, e-mail: mfitzpatrick@utk.edu

Abstract

Climate change has already altered global patterns of biodiversity by modifying the geographic distributions of species. Forecasts based on bioclimatic envelop modeling of distributions of species suggests greater impacts can be expected in the future, but such projections are contingent on assumptions regarding future climate and migration rates of species. Here, we present a first assessment of the potential impact of climate change on a global biodiversity hotspot in southwestern Western Australia. Across three representative scenarios of future climate change, we simulated migration of 100 Banksia (Proteaceae) species at a rate of 5 km decade−1 and compared projected impacts with those under the commonly applied, but acknowledged as inadequate, assumptions of ‘full-’ and ‘no-migration.’ Across all climate × migration scenarios, 66% of species were projected to decline, whereas only 6% were projected to expand or remain stable. Between 5% and 25% of species were projected to suffer range losses of 100% by 2080, depending mainly on climate scenario. Species losses were driven primarily by changes in current precipitation regimes, with the greatest losses of species projected to occur in a transition zone between wet coastal areas and interior arid regions and which is projected to become more arid in the future. Because the ranges of most species tended to collapse in all climate scenarios, we found that climate change impacts to flora of southwestern Western Australia may be large, even under optimistic assumptions regarding migration abilities. Taken together, our results suggest that the future of biodiversity in southwestern Western Australia may lie largely in the degree to which this hotspot experiences increased drought and in the ability of species to tolerate such decreases in precipitation. More broadly, our study is among a growing number of theoretical studies suggesting the impacts of future climate change on global biodiversity may be considerable.

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