UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Predicting Potential Habitat of a Plant Species with Small Populations under Climate Change: Ostryarehderiana Feng, Lei; Sun, Jiejie; El-Kassaby, Yousry A.; Yang, Xianyu; Tian, Xiangni; Wang, Tongli


Ostrya rehderiana is a famous plant species with extremely small populations. With ongoing global climate change, the extremely small populations would face more uncertainties and risks, including the loss of genetic diversity and extirpation. Thus, assessing the impact of climate change on suitable habitat of O. rehderiana is particularly important for its conservation and restoration. Here, we built niche models with climate variables and soil and human footprint variables. Furthermore, new methods were applied to avoid confounding effects between climate and soil and human footprint variables to simulate the potential habitats of O. rehderiana in current and future climates. We found that the Hargreaves climatic moisture deficit, degree-days below 0 °C, chilling degree-days, and the temperature difference between mean warmest month temperature and mean coldest month temperature, or continentality, were the most important climate factors. The topsoil USDA texture classification, topsoil cation exchange capacity of (clay), and topsoil sodicity (ESP) were the key soil factors determining the suitable distribution of O. rehderiana. Compared with soil factors, human footprint has less influence on the suitable distribution of O. rehderiana. The niche range of this species was projected to expand and shift to north in the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario for the 2050s. Our study results could be referenced in further extremely small populations ecological restoration studies and provide the scientific strategies for the conservation and restoration of O. rehderiana.

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