Frontiers of Biogeography (FoB) is the scientific journal of the International Biogeography Society (IBS, www.biogeography.org), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promotion of and public understanding of the biogeographical sciences. IBS launched FoB to provide an independent forum for biogeographical science, with the academic standards expected of a journal operated by and for an academic society.
Volume 7, Issue 1, 2015
Opinions, Perspectives & Reviews
Assessing the future of biodiversity under changing climates is plagued by uncertainty. Drawing on data for sub-Saharan African vertebrates, I focus on some of the major sources of uncertainty surrounding bioclimatic envelope model projections and on possible ways to address them. I examine the uncertainty arising from alternative climate projections and model algorithms and I summarise it through consensus building. To examine ecological uncertainty, I present a framework for teasing apart projected gains, losses, and fragmentation of climatically suitable areas; each of these threats and opportunities can be examined with reference to relevant response-mediating biological traits, such as the species’ climatic tolerance, reproductive output, and dispersal ability. A further source of uncertainty in climate change impact assessments based on bioclimatic envelope models is the omission of narrow-ranging species, which are difficult to model. I demonstrate the conservation implications of such omissions, and I investigate how climate change metrics can be used as an alternative tool in assessments. Multiple metrics of change in climate parameters, seen as proxies for the threats and opportunities facing biodiversity, are reviewed and illustrated at the global scale, and compared to bioclimatic models for sub-Saharan African vertebrates.
For two centuries, islands have served as rich sources of inspiration and data for biogeographers, thus gaining renown as ideal natural laboratories. Their research potential continues to expand today thanks to the combined application of recent advances in several scientific fields. First, increasingly detailed geological and palaeoecological data are extending our understanding of the history of development of island biotas. At the same time, rapid methodological advances in molecular evolutionary biology and systematics are revealing the pathways by which species colonized islands, evolved, and formed communities. Third, basic data on species distributions are being collected from increasing numbers of islands and taxa, distributed widely through electronic resources, and analyzed with powerful software to reveal macroecological patterns. The pace and quality of recent advances signal a promising future in which islands will continue to play key roles in revealing how biodiversity is produced and maintained.
Diversity patterns are governed by a complex network of interacting factors. Studies directed to disentangle the most important factors affecting diversity have frequently shown divergent results, which has encouraged a rewarding debate about the relative importance of each factor. Scale dependency has been identified as a direct cause of at least part of such divergences. However, studies with spatially-explicit measurements at different scales are costly and therefore they are relatively scarce despite their importance. Here, we present a database to disentangle the cross-scale variation in the importance of factors affecting the diversity of epiphytic bryophyte communities in Quercus dominated forests (Quercus ilex L., Quercus pyrenaica Willd. and Quercus faginea Lam.) in the North-western region of the Iberian Peninsula. We provide species-per-site abundance information with more than 9000 entries and an environmental table containing 20 in situ measured variables at three different scales (forest, stand, and sample). The database will help to advance the research of cross-scale effects of diversity patterns while at the same time providing valuable information on the distribution of a poorly known group of organisms.
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Picture of the moss Orthotrichum commosum. This recently discovered species is common as epiphyte in the Iberian Peninsula. You can see more on the distribution of this and other iberian epiphytic bryophytes in the N. G. Medina et al. article in this issue of (2015 Frontiers of Biogeography 7, 21–28). Picture by Rafael Medina; this image was first published in the manuscript describing the species (Medina et al., 2013 Taxon 62, 1133–1152).
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