Gains and Losses of Plant Species and Phylogenetic Diversity for a Northern High-latitude Region

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Jian Zhang
Scott Nielsen
Jessica Stolar
Youhua Chen
Wilfried Thuiller
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We used 160,589 occurrence records for 1541 species of seed plants in Alberta (nearly 90% of the province's seed flora) and ensemble niche models to project current and future suitable habitats. We then examined climate change vulnerability of individual species and the potential impacts of climate change on species richness, PD and both taxonomic and phylogenetic endemism (PE). We also assessed whether predicted losses of PD were distributed randomly across the plant tree of life.

We found that 368 species (24%) may lose on average > 80% of their current suitable climates (habitats), while 539 species (35%) were projected to more than double their current suitable range. Both species richness and PD were predicted to increase in most areas, except for the species-rich Rocky Mountains, which are predicted to experience future declines. Maps of taxonomic and PE identified several regions with high conservation value and climate change threat suggesting priorities for conservation and climate change adaptation. Overall, a non-random extinction risk was found for Alberta's flora, demonstrating potential future impacts of climate change on the loss of evolutionary history.