Trevedi, Mandar R., Morecroft, Michael D., Berry, Pamela M. and Dawson, Terence P.
Potential effects of climate change on plant communities in three montane nature reserves in Scotland, UK
Biological Conservation, 141, (6), . (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.04.008).
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Mountain ecosystems are often identified as being particularly sensitive to climate change, however this has rarely been investigated at the scale of individual mountain ranges using local relationships between plants and climate. This study uses fine resolution data to assess the potential changes to internationally important Arctic-alpine plant communities in three national nature reserves in the Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom. Distribution models were created for 31 species, representing a range of community types. A relationship between distribution and temperature was found for all species. These models were aggregated to explore potential future changes to each community under two Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warming scenarios for the 2080s. The results indicate that Arctic-alpine communities in these reserves could undergo substantial species turnover, even under the lower climate change scenario. For example, Racomitrium-Carex moss-heath, a distinctive community type of the British uplands, could lose suitable climate space as other communities spread uphill. These findings highlight the need to maintain these communities in an optimal condition in which they can be most resilient to such change, to monitor them for signals of change and to develop more flexible conservation policies which account for future changes in mountain protected areas.
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