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Species' intrinsic traits inform their range limitations and vulnerability under environmental change

AuthorsEstrada, Alba ; Meireles, Catarina; Morales-Castilla, Ignacio; Poschlod, Peter; Vieites, David R. ; Araújo, Miguel B. ; Early, Regan
KeywordsClimate change
European plants
Range filling
Range shift
Range size
Seed bank persistence
Issue DateJul-2015
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationGlobal Ecology and Biogeography 24(7): 849-858 (2015)
AbstractAim: Understanding the factors that govern species' geographical ranges is of utmost importance for predicting potential range shifts triggered by environmental change. Species ranges are partially limited by their tolerances to extrinsic environmental conditions such as climate and habitat. However, they are also determined by the capacity of species to disperse, establish new populations and proliferate, which are in turn dependent on species intrinsic life-history traits. So far, the contribution of intrinsic factors driving species distributions has been inconclusive, largely because intrinsic and extrinsic factors have not been examined simultaneously in a satisfactory way. We investigate how geographical ranges of plants are determined by both extrinsic environmental factors and species intrinsic life-history traits.
Location: Europe.
Methods: We compiled a database on plant geographical ranges, environmental tolerances and life-history traits that constitutes the largest dataset analysed to date (1276 species). We used generalized linear modelling to test if range size and range filling (the proportion of climatically suitable area a species occupies) are affected by dispersal distance, habitat breadth and 10 life-history traits related to establishment and proliferation.
Results: The species characteristics that were most linked to range limitations of European plant species were dispersal potential, seed bank persistence and habitat breadth (which together explained ≥ 30% of deviance in range filling and range size). Specific leaf area, which has been linked to establishment ability, made a smaller contribution to native range limitations.
Main conclusions: Our results can be used to improve estimates of extinction vulnerability under climate change. Species with high dispersal capacity, that can maintain viable seed banks for several years and that can live in an intermediate number of habitats have the fewest non-climatic limitations on their ranges, and are most likely to shift their geographical ranges under climate change. We suggest that climate-change risk assessments should not focus exclusively on dispersal capacity.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/geb.12306
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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