Species’ intrinsic traits inform their range limitations and vulnerability under environmental change
Estrada, A; Meireles, C; Morales-Castilla, I; et al.Poschlod, P; Vietes, D; Araujo, MB; Early, Regan
Date: 29 April 2015
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Aim Understanding the factors that govern species’ geographic ranges is of utmost importance to predict 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 species’ ...
Aim Understanding the factors that govern species’ geographic ranges is of utmost importance to predict 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 species’ capacity 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 satisfactorily been examined simultaneously. We investigate how geographic 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 geographic ranges, environmental tolerances and life-history traits that constitutes the largest dataset analysed to date (1276 species). We performed GLMs 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, contributed in a smaller way 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 least non-climatic limitations on their ranges, and are most likely to shift their geographic ranges under climate change. We suggest that climate-change risk assessments should not focus exclusively on dispersal capacity.
College of Life and Environmental Sciences
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