Effects of climate change and urban development on the distribution and conservation of vegetation in a Mediterranean type ecosystem

Bray J. Beltrán, Janet Franklin, Alexandra D. Syphard, Helen M. Regan, Lorraine E. Flint, Alan L. Flint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Climate and land-use changes are projected to threaten biodiversity over this century. However, few studies have considered the spatial and temporal overlap of these threats to evaluate how ongoing land-use change could affect species ranges projected to shift outside conservation areas. We evaluated climate change and urban development effects on vegetation distribution in the Southwest ecoregion, California Floristic Province, USA. We also evaluated how well a conservation network protects suitable habitat for rare plant species under these change projections and identified primary sources of uncertainty. We used consensus-based maps from three species distribution models (SDMs) to project current and future suitable habitat for 19 species representing different functional types (defined by fire-response - obligate seeders, resprouting shrubs - and life forms - herbs, subshrubs), and range sizes (large/common, small/rare). We used one spatially explicit urban growth projection; two climate models, emission scenarios, and probability thresholds applied to SDMs; and high-resolution (90 m) environmental data. We projected that suitable habitat could disappear for 4 species and decrease for 15 by 2080. Averaged centroids of suitable habitat (all species) were projected to shift tens (up to hundreds) of kilometers. Herbs showed a small-projected response to climate change, while obligate seeders could suffer the greatest losses. Several rare species could lose suitable habitat inside conservation areas while increasing area outside. We concluded that (i) climate change is more important than urban development for vegetation habitat loss in this ecoregion through 2080 due to diminishing amounts of undeveloped private land in this region; (ii) the existing conservation plan, while extensive, may be inadequate to protect plant diversity under projected patterns of climate change and urban development, (iii) regional assessments of the dynamics of the drivers of biodiversity change based on high-resolution environmental data and consensus predictive mapping, such as this study, are necessary to identify the species expected to be the most vulnerable and to meaningfully inform regional-scale conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1561-1589
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Volume28
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

Climate change
urban development
Ecosystems
habitat
Conservation
climate change
conservation
vegetation
Biodiversity
Land use
ecoregion
biodiversity
projection
Urban growth
land use
Climate models
herb
land use change
protected area
climate

Keywords

  • climate change
  • Mediterranean type ecosystem
  • plant functional type
  • species distribution models
  • urban development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences

Cite this

Effects of climate change and urban development on the distribution and conservation of vegetation in a Mediterranean type ecosystem. / Beltrán, Bray J.; Franklin, Janet; Syphard, Alexandra D.; Regan, Helen M.; Flint, Lorraine E.; Flint, Alan L.

In: International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Vol. 28, No. 8, 2014, p. 1561-1589.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beltrán, Bray J. ; Franklin, Janet ; Syphard, Alexandra D. ; Regan, Helen M. ; Flint, Lorraine E. ; Flint, Alan L. / Effects of climate change and urban development on the distribution and conservation of vegetation in a Mediterranean type ecosystem. In: International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 2014 ; Vol. 28, No. 8. pp. 1561-1589.
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