How climate, migration ability and habitat fragmentation affect the projected future distribution of European beech

Frédérik Saltré, Anne Duputié, Cedric Gaucherel, Isabelle Chuine

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    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent efforts to incorporate migration processes into species distribution models (SDMs) are allowing assessments of whether species are likely to be able to track their future climate optimum and the possible causes of failing to do so. Here, we projected the range shift of European beech over the 21st century using a process-based SDM coupled to a phenomenological migration model accounting for population dynamics, according to two climate change scenarios and one land use change scenario. Our model predicts that the climatically suitable habitat for European beech will shift north-eastward and upward mainly because (i) higher temperature and precipitation, at the northern range margins, will increase survival and fruit maturation success, while (ii) lower precipitations and higher winter temperature, at the southern range margins, will increase drought mortality and prevent bud dormancy breaking. Beech colonization rate of newly climatically suitable habitats in 2100 is projected to be very low (1-2% of the newly suitable habitats colonised). Unexpectedly, the projected realized contraction rate was higher than the projected potential contraction rate. As a result, the realized distribution of beech is projected to strongly contract by 2100 (by 36-61%) mainly due to a substantial increase in climate variability after 2050, which generates local extinctions, even at the core of the distribution, the frequency of which prevents beech recolonization during more favourable years. Although European beech will be able to persist in some parts of the trailing edge of its distribution, the combined effects of climate and land use changes, limited migration ability, and a slow life-history are likely to increase its threat status in the near future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)897-910
    Number of pages14
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


    • Climate change
    • Demography
    • Fagus sylvatica
    • Gibbs-based migration model
    • Habitat fragmentation
    • Migration lag
    • Process-based species distribution model


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