Predicting potential distribution and range dynamics of Aquilegia fragrans under climate change: insights from ensemble species distribution modelling

Environ Monit Assess. 2023 Apr 28;195(5):623. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-11245-2.


Climate change is one of the primary causes of species redistribution and biodiversity loss, especially for threatened and endemic important plant species. Therefore, it is vital to comprehend "how" and "where" priority medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) might be effectively used to address conservation-related issues under rapid climate change. In the present study, an ensemble modelling approach was used to investigate the present and future distribution patterns of Aquilegia fragrans Benth. under climate change in the entire spectrum of Himalayan biodiversity hotspot. The results of the current study revealed that, under current climatic conditions, the northwest states of India (Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the northern part of Uttarakhand), the eastern and southern parts of Pakistan Himalaya have highly suitable climatic conditions for the growth of A. fragrans. The ensemble model exhibited high forecast accuracy, with temperature seasonality and precipitation seasonality as the main climatic variables responsible for the distribution of the A. fragrans in the biodiversity hotspot. Furthermore, the study predicted that future climate change scenarios will diminish habitat suitability for the species by -46.9% under RCP4.5 2050 and -55.0% under RCP4.5 2070. Likewise, under RCP8.5, the habitat suitability will decrease by -51.7% in 2050 and -94.3% in 2070. The current study also revealed that the western Himalayan area will show the most habitat loss. Some currently unsuitable regions, such as the northern Himalayan regions of Pakistan, will become more suitable under climate change scenarios. Hopefully, the current approach may provide a robust technique and showcases a model with learnings for predicting cultivation hotspots and developing scientifically sound conservation plans for this endangered medicinal plant in the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot.

Keywords: Aquilegia fragrans; Climate change; Ensemble modelling; Himalaya; Medicinal and aromatic plants; Restoration.

MeSH terms

  • Aquilegia*
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring