Effects of climate and land-use change on North American seed plants

How will climate and land-use change alter distributions of plants in North America, and what effects will this have on future richness and diversity?

Data resources used via GBIF : 3,786,713 species occurrences

Pricklyburr (Datura innoxia), one the species projected to lose more than 80 per cent suitable habitat. Photo by Laura Uribe via iNaturalist licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Climate and land-use change are expected to affect future distributions of plants and potentially lead to higher extinction rates. In this study, researchers used GBIF-mediated occurrences to examine current and future distributions of 7,465 seed plant taxa in North America. Based on the distribution models, they evaluated the vulnerability and extinction risk of each species. Their results showed that by 2080 about 2,000 species are projected to lose more than 80 per cent of their suitable habitat, however, gains of similar proportions are likely to happen for about 100 species. The ratio of loss to gain expected is 13 to one. The greatest losses are expected in southern regions, while northern latitudes can expect gains. Extinctions are likely to affect evolutionarily distinct species more, suggesting a potentially disproportionate loss of phylogenetic diversity. Overall, the study points to a rapid and severe changes in future distributions of North American plant species.

Zhang J, Nielsen SE, Chen Y, Georges D, Qin Y, Wang S-S, Svenning J-C and Thuiller W (2016) Extinction risk of North American seed plants elevated by climate and land-use change. Journal of Applied Ecology. Wiley-Blackwell. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12701.