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Special Paper: Modelling Present and Potential Future Ranges of Some European Higher Plants Using Climate Response Surfaces

Brian Huntley, Pamela M. Berry, Wolfgang Cramer and Alison P. McDonald
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 22, No. 6 (Nov., 1995), pp. 967-1001
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845830
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845830
Page Count: 35
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Special Paper: Modelling Present and Potential Future Ranges of Some European Higher Plants Using Climate Response Surfaces
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Abstract

It is hypothesized that the principal features of higher plant distributions at continental scales are determined by the macroclimate. Bioclimate data have been computed on a 50 km grid across Europe. Along with published maps of higher plant distributions based upon the same grid, these data have been used to derive climate response surfaces that model the relationship between a species' distribution and the present climate. Eight species representative of a variety of phytogeographic patterns have been investigated. The results support the hypothesis that the European distributions of all eight species are principally determined by macroclimate and illustrate the nature of the climatic constraints upon each species. Simulated future distributions in equilibrium with 2× CO2 climate scenarios derived from two alternative GCMs show that all of the species are likely to experience major shifts in their potential range if such climatic changes take place. Some species may suffer substantial range and population reductions and others may face the threat of extinction. The rate of the forecast climate changes is such that few, if any, species may be able to maintain their ranges in equilibrium with the changing climate. In consequence, the transient impacts upon ecosystems will be varied but often may lead to a period of dominance by opportunist, early-successional species. Our simulations of potential ranges take no account of such factors as photoperiod or the direct effects of CO2, both of which may substantially alter the realized future equilibrium.

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