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Individual Highlight

Climate Change Affects Potential Plant Species Distribution and Richness on Puerto Rican uplands.

Photo of Potential changes in the number of tree species for future periods under high (a-d) and low (e-h) emission scenarios. Models of species distributions show species richness increases as more numerous dryland adapted species migrate to uplands.
Potential changes in the number of tree species for future periods under high (a-d) and low (e-h) emission scenarios. Models of species distributions show species richness increases as more numerous dryland adapted species migrate to uplands. Snapshot : Drier conditions projected by climate models favor dryland tree species and higher species richness over tree species adapted to high rainfall environments in Puerto Rican uplands.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Gould, William A. 
Research Location : Puerto Rico
Research Station : International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1530

Summary

USDA Forest service scientists analyzed the potential effects of climate change on 200 plant species in Puerto Rico, under two emission scenarios and in four periods over the 21st century. The probabilities of environmental suitability decline for species adapted to wetter climates and increase for species adapted to drier and warm climate under both emission scenarios, with stronger effects under the higher emission scenario. Expansion of dry climate species to higher elevations appears to be a prominent response of species to climatic change in the island based on changes in environmental suitability but the actual species redistribution will be influenced by their life histories, potential adaptation, dispersal abilities, species introductions, and species interactions. This potential movement leads to a spatial pattern of species richness at site level that shows a positive relationship with elevation, which becomes stronger in the later periods of the century. The spatial pattern of species richness, if combined with single species projections, can provide critical information for conservation management in the island. Conservation management can support island-wide biological diversity by protecting the wet climate species on the uplands.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Colorado State University
  • ¬†Aarhus University
  • ¬†Columbia University
  • ¬†Westminster College