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Projected impacts of climate and land use changes on the habitat of Atlantic Forest plants in Brazil

Citation

Leão, Tarciso; Reinhardt, Jason; Nic Lughadha, Eimear; Reich, Peter (2021), Projected impacts of climate and land use changes on the habitat of Atlantic Forest plants in Brazil, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ksn02v74h

Abstract

Aim: To provide novel evidence on the average impact of climate and land use changes on habitat suitability for tropical plants and to test previous conclusions on the relative importance of these two drivers in shaping future availability of habitat for tropical plant species.

Location: Brazil’s Atlantic Forest domain.

Time period: Plant occurrences recorded between 1960 and 2014. Baseline climate from 1960-2000 and land use from 2015. Projected scenarios of climate for 2041-2060 and land use for 2050.

Major taxa studied: Angiosperms.

Results: Our results suggest that climate change alone will, surprisingly, have only a modest negative impact on the mean habitat suitability, decreasing it by 2% (median = -5% to -7%, variation associated with scenarios). Land use change alone had a more consistent negative impact on habitat suitability, causing mean and median reductions of 4% to 6%. When the effects of climate and land use are combined, the mean habitat suitability was reduced by 4% (median = -9% to -11%).

Main conclusions:  The combined impacts of climate and land use changes were substantial, although smaller than expected. Habitat suitability decreased for most species, but it increased substantially for some species, suggesting that the distribution of impacts across species is markedly right skewed. The impacts were typically detrimental to small-ranged species and neutral or beneficial to widespread species. Land use change rather than climate change will likely cause more losses to the habitat of Atlantic Forest plant species within the next several decades.

Methods

We modelled the habitat suitability of 2,232 species of angiosperms from the Atlantic Forest domain, endemic to Brazil, and estimated how future climate and land use may affect species-level habitat suitability under a moderate (SSP2-RCP4.5) and a business-as-usual (SSP5-RCP8.5) scenario for the year 2050.

Funding

Graduate School, University of Minnesota

Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Award: 1145/12‐6