The National Centre for Research and Development



CORE; Programme area: climate change including polar research; ID: 196829



Project title: The impact of climate change on species ranges and composition of plant communities in temperate, boreal and alpine regions


Acronym: KlimaVeg


Project Promoter: University of Warsaw/Faculty of Biology


Polish partners: University of Jan Kochanowski in Kielce


Norwegian Partners: University of Bergen; Norwegian Forest and Lanscape Institute


Project cost (EUR): 915 003


Grant amount (EUR): 915 003

Duration: 36 months






Project summary:

Climate has warmed worldwide in recent decades. Temperature is predicted to continue to rise and precipitation is predicted to change. Both are important factors for the distribution of species and biological communities. Bioclimatic modeling has predicted considerable range shifts in response to future climate change. These models imply that climatic changes will increase extinction rates for species compared to rates that occurred in prehistoric times, and that species in the mountain areas are especially vulnerable. It is not clear whether and which species are able to track these climate shifts. Recent studies have shown that estimates of extinction rate based on bioclimatic modeling are hampered by several uncertainties, e.g. dispersal limitations, biotic interactions, interactions with land-use changes and dependence on daylight regimes. To improve our predictions about how climate change will impact biodiversity and ecosystems, and to be able to mitigate against the unwanted effects, we need a better understanding of what influences species range shifts and therefore community composition. Some species have already responded to climatic warming by shifting their distribution polewards in latitude and upwards in altitude. Some areas have shown larger changes than others, and in some areas an opposite pattern of what is expected from warming alone has been found. Differences in range shifts between areas might be a result of regional contrasts in climate change, or interactions between climate and non-climatic factors, such as fragmentation and grazing pressure. Variations in range shifts between species and organism groups have also been found and may be due to different dispersal ability or dependencies on other organisms. Using altitudinal gradients in contrasting regions makes it possible to test more rigorously how important different factors are for range shifts and will provide enhanced possibilities for teasing apart the effects of different factors.


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