Conservation of threatened habitat types under future climate change – Lessons from plant-distribution models and current extinction trends in southern Germany

Buse, Jörn; Boch, Steffen; Hilgers, Jörg; Griebeler, Eva Maria (2015). Conservation of threatened habitat types under future climate change – Lessons from plant-distribution models and current extinction trends in southern Germany. Journal for Nature Conservation, 27, pp. 18-25. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jnc.2015.06.001

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A higher risk of future range losses as a result of climate change is expected to be one of the main drivers of extinction trends in vascular plants occurring in habitat types of high conservation value. Nevertheless, the impact of the climate changes of the last 60 years on the current distribution and extinction patterns of plants is still largely unclear. We applied species distribution models to study the impact of environmental variables (climate, soil conditions, land cover, topography), on the current distribution of 18 vascular plant species characteristic of three threatened habitat types in southern Germany: (i) xero-thermophilous vegetation, (ii) mesophilous mountain grasslands (mountain hay meadows and matgrass communities), and (iii) wetland habitats (bogs, fens, and wet meadows). Climate and soil variables were the most important variables affecting plant distributions at a spatial level of 10 × 10 km. Extinction trends in our study area revealed that plant species which occur in wetland habitats faced higher extinction risks than those in xero-thermophilous vegetation, with the risk for species in mesophilous mountain grasslands being intermediary. For three plant species characteristic either of mesophilous mountain grasslands or wetland habitats we showed exemplarily that extinctions from 1950 to the present day have occurred at the edge of the species’ current climatic niche, indicating that climate change has likely been the main driver of extinction. This is largely consistent with current extinction trends reported in other studies. Our study indicates that the analysis of past extinctions is an appropriate means to assess the impact of climate change on species and that vulnerability to climate change is both species- and habitat-specific.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Boch, Steffen

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1617-1381

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

10 Jul 2015 16:15

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2015 11:25

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.jnc.2015.06.001

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Bogs; Fens; Land cover; Mountain hay meadows; Natura 2000; Wet meadows; Xero-thermic habitats

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.70183

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/70183

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