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Threats of future climate change and land use to vulnerable tree species native to Southern California


Climate and land-use changes are expected to drive high rates of environmental change and biodiversity loss in Mediterranean ecosystems this century. This paper compares the relative future impacts of land use and climate change on two vulnerable tree species native to Southern California (Juglans californica and Quercus engelmannii) using species distribution models. Under the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's A1B future scenario, high levels of both projected land use and climate change could drive considerable habitat losses on these two already heavily-impacted tree species. Under scenarios of no dispersal, projected climate change poses a greater habitat loss threat relative to projected land use for both species. Assuming unlimited dispersal, climate-driven habitat gains could offset some of the losses due to both drivers, especially in J. californica which could experience net habitat gains under combined impacts of both climate change and land use. Quercus engelmannii, in contrast, could experience net habitat losses under combined impacts, even under best-case unlimited dispersal scenarios. Similarly, projected losses and gains in protected habitat are highly sensitive to dispersal scenario, with anywhere from > 60% loss in protected habitat (no dispersal) to > 170% gain in protected habitat (unlimited dispersal). The findings underscore the importance of dispersal in moderating future habitat loss for vulnerable species.

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