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Projected latitudinal and regional changes in vascular plant diversity through climate change: Short-term gains and longer-term losses

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JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
DatePublished - 1 Jun 2013
Issue number6-7
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)1467-1483
Original languageEnglish


A simple approach is suggested to project potential changes in the diversity of vascular plants. We use the current (recent past) relationship between plant diversity and geographic variation in the climate, as well as elevation range, to project changes in regional species richness (at 100 × 100 km resolution), concentrating on six climate scenarios for 2020, 2050 and 2080. The results show an overall trend towards increased vascular plant species richness. Increases in richness by 2050 and 2080 are expected over approximately three-quarters of the land surface, but decreases are expected in other regions. The magnitudes of richness gains and losses both increase over time, as the level of warming grows. The latitudinal pattern of change suggests that richness increases will be greatest at high latitudes, where plant productivity and diversity are largely limited by temperature. Richness decreases are not projected consistently in any latitudinal band, but are most likely to be observed at 5-40N, where declines in precipitation drive most projected decreases in richness.

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