Distributional responses to climate change for alpine species of Cyananthus and Primula endemic to the Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains

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Plant Diversity



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Alpine species, Global warming, Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains, MaxEnt, Range expansion


© 2019 Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences Global warming increases the vulnerability of plants, especially alpine herbaceous species, to local extinction. In this study, we collected species distribution information from herbarium specimens for ten selected Cyananthus and Primula alpine species endemic to the Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains (HHM). Combined with climate data from WorldClim, we used Maximum Entropy Modeling (MaxEnt) to project distributional changes from the current time period to 2070. Our predictions indicate that, under a wide range of climate change scenarios, the distributions of all species will shift upward in elevation and northward in latitude; furthermore, under these scenarios, species will expand the size of their range. For the majority of the species in this study, habitats are available to mitigate upward and northward shifts that are projected to be induced by changing climate. If current climate projections, however, increase in magnitude or continue to increase past our projection dates, suitable habitat for future occupation by alpine species will be limited as we predict range contraction or less range expansion for some of the species under more intensified climate scenarios. Our study not only underscores the value of herbarium source information for future climate model projections but also suggests that future studies on the effects of climate change on alpine species should include additional biotic and abiotic factors to provide greater resolution of the local dynamics associated with species persistence under a warming climate.

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