Topography of the Dolomites modulates range dynamics of narrow endemic plants under climate change

Sci Rep. 2022 Jan 26;12(1):1398. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-05440-3.


Climate change is expected to threaten endemic plants in the Alps. In this context, the factors that may modulate species responses are rarely investigated at a local scale. We analyzed eight alpine narrow endemics of the Dolomites (southeastern Alps) under different predicted climate change scenarios at fine spatial resolutions. We tested possible differences in elevation, topographic heterogeneity and velocity of climate change among areas of gained, lost, or stable climatic habitat. The negative impact of climate change ranged from moderate to severe, depending on scenario and species. Generally, range loss occurred at the lowest elevations, while gained and stable areas were located at highest elevations. For six of the species, climate change velocity had higher values in stable and gained areas than in lost ones. Our findings support the role of topographic heterogeneity in maintaining climatic microrefugia, however, the peculiar topography of the Dolomites, characterized by high altitude plateaus, resulted in high climate change velocity in areas of projected future climatic suitability. Our study supports the usefulness of multiple predictors of spatio-temporal range dynamics for regional climate-adapted management and eventual assisted colonization planning to not overlook or overestimate the potential impact of climate change locally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't