UBC Graduate Research

Modelling the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Arboreal Diversity of the UBC Vancouver Campus from 2050 to 2080 Liang, Chris


Climate change poses a considerable risk to forest diversity in urban communities. The University of British Columbia (UBC) seeks to identify vulnerable tree species on campus and apply strategies for sustaining arboreal diversity in future decades. In contribution to these efforts, this study investigated the potential shift in tree composition on the UBC Vancouver Campus over the next century by (1) predicting suitable climatic habitat for 128 campus species in 2050 and 2080, and (2) mapping the expected change in species richness across North America. Species distribution modelling was performed to define the current range of temperature and precipitation conditions for each tree species. The ranges were projected into RCP 8.5 worst-case climate scenarios for 2050 and 2080 as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Results indicate that climate change is expected to have a substantial impact on suitable habitat for trees on the UBC campus; 32% of the species are projected to lose their suitable climatic conditions on campus by 2080. On average, species ranges are projected to shift northwards by 8.1  (~ 900 km) in the coming century from 40.7  N to 48.7  N. Species estimated to have the greatest range shift such as silver birch (B. pendula) may require careful maintenance, or replacement with species of similar ecological function in the future. This study highlights the urgency of climate-induced habitat decline at UBC Vancouver and provides insight for a ‘Trees and Biodiversity’ strategy to restore and enhance arboreal diversity. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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