Incorporating climate change and exotic species into forecasts of riparian forest distribution

Dana H. Ikeda, Kevin C. Grady, Stephen M. Shuster, Thomas G. Whitham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We examined the impact climate change (CC) will have on the availability of climatically suitable habitat for three native and one exotic riparian species. Due to its increasing prevalence in arid regions throughout the western US, we predicted that an exotic species, Tamarix, would have the greatest increase in suitable habitat relative to native counterparts under CC. We used an ecological niche model to predict range shifts of Populus fremontii, Salix gooddingii, Salix exigua and Tamarix, from present day to 2080s, under five general circulation models and one climate change scenario (A1B). Four major findings emerged. 1) Contrary to our original hypothesis, P. fremontii is projected to have the greatest increase in suitable habitat under CC, followed closely by Tamarix. 2) Of the native species, S. gooddingii and S. exigua showed the greatest loss in predicted suitable habitat due to CC. 3) Nearly 80 percent of future P. fremontii and Salix habitat is predicted to be affected by either CC or Tamarix by the 2080s. 4) By the 2080s, 20 percent of S. gooddingii habitat is projected to be affected by both Tamarix and CC concurrently, followed by S. exigua (19 percent) and P. fremontii (13 percent). In summary, while climate change alone will negatively impact both native willow species, Tamarix is likely to affect a larger portion of all three native species' distributions. We discuss these and other results in the context of prioritizing restoration and conservation efforts to optimize future productivity and biodiversity. As we are accounting for only direct effects of CC and Tamarix on native habitat, we present a possible hierarchy of effects- from the direct to the indirect- and discuss the potential for the indirect to outweigh the direct effects. Our results highlight the need to account for simultaneous challenges in the face of CC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0107037
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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