Able to out-compete exotic weeds and attract important dispersers, fast-growing pioneer species are important for successful rehabilition of degraded forests in areas like West Africa. For long-term restoration projects, however, knowing the vulnerability of such species to future climates is key.
In a collaborative study from institutions in Benin and South Africa, researchers modelled the current and future distributions of two candidate species in Benin–Lonchocarpus sericeus and Anogeissus leiocarpa–using GBIF-mediated occurrences and environmental data from the WorldClim and AFRICLIM datasets.
Models for both species performed well with the most essential contributors being temperature seasonality for L. sericeus and annual precipitation for A. leiocarpa. The authors found suitable climate in 74 per cent of Benin for L. sericeus and in 88 per cent of the country for A. leiocarpa.
The authors found little, if any, reduction in potential distributions, suggesting that in terms of climate, both species could be considered good pioneer candidates for forest restorations now and in the future.