Future habitat loss and the conservation of plant biodiversity

Xingli Giam, Corey J A Bradshaw, Hugh T W Tan, Navjot S Sodhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Rapid land-use and climate changes are projected to cause broad-scale global land-cover transformation that will increase species extinction rates. We assessed the exposure of globally threatened plant biodiversity to future habitat loss over the first half of this century by testing country-level associations between threatened plant species richness and future habitat loss owing to land-use and climate changes, separately. In countries overlapping Biodiversity Hotspots, plant species endangerment increases with climate change-driven habitat loss. This association suggests that many currently threatened plant species will become extinct owing to anthropogenic climate change in the absence of potentially mitigating factors such as natural and assisted range shift, and physiological and genetic adaptations. Countries rich in threatened species, which are also projected to have relatively high total future habitat loss, are concentrated around the equator. Because poverty and poor governance can compromise conservation, we considered the economic condition and quality of governance with the degree of plant species endangerment and future habitat loss to prioritize countries based on conservation need. We identified Angola, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Tajikistan, and Tanzania as the countries in greatest need of conservation assistance. For conservation endeavors to be effective, the conservation capacity of these high-need countries needs to be improved by assisting political stability and economic sustainability. We make policy recommendations that aim to mitigate climate change, promote plant species conservation, and improve the economic conditions and quality of governance in countries with high conservation need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1594-1602
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume143
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Conservation
  • Governance
  • Habitat loss
  • Land-use change
  • Plant biodiversity

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