Modeled regional climate change and California endemic oak ranges

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Kueppers, Lara M., Snyder, Mark A., Sloan, Lisa C., Zaveleta, Erika S., and Fulfrost, Brian

In the coming century, anthropogenic climate change will threaten the persistence of restricted endemic species, complicating conservation planning. Although most efforts to quantify potential shifts in species' ranges use global climate model (GCM) output, regional climate model (RCM) output may be better suited to predicting shifts by restricted species, particularly in regions with complex topography or other regionally important climate-forcing factors. Using a RCM-based future climate scenario, we found that potential ranges of two California endemic oaks, Quercus douglasii and Quercus lobata, shrink considerably (to 59% and 54% of modern potential range sizes, respectively) and shift northward. This result is markedly different from that obtained by using a comparable GCM-based scenario, under which these species retain 81% and 73% of their modern potential range sizes, respectively. The difference between RCM- and GCM-based scenarios is due to greater warming and larger precipitation decreases during the growing season predicted by the RCM in these species' potential ranges. Based on the modeled regional climate change, <50% of protected land area currently containing these species is expected to contain them under a future midrange “business-as-usual” path of greenhouse gas emissions.


Kueppers, L. M., M. A. Snyder, L. C. Sloan, E. S. Zavaleta, and B. Fulfrost. 2005. Modeled regional climate change and California endemic oak ranges. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102:16281–16286. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0501427102.