Main image for Landscape Planning for the Future

Photography courtesy of J. Pages

A modelling project is in progress focusing on validating widely used state-of-the-art Bioclimatic Envelope Models with independent data at timescales and climatic variability relevant for current conservation planning.

The aim is to determine the accuracy of combining Bioclimatic Envelope Models and palaeoecological data to predict continental-scale changes in distribution, and the availability of fossil data to hindcast economically important species.

A first study has been conducted over Europe for a set of tree species of special socio-economic importance in the continent, and demonstrates the use of such an approach to understand ecological responses to climate change and validate models that are used in future global scenario planning.

The same approach is being implemented to a set of sub-Saharan plant species of high importance as a source of food, wood, and other ecosystem services such as carbon storage or erosion protection.

The African study covers most of the Holocene, including the sharp transition from wet to dry climate ~5000 yr. B.P., of crucial importance to understand the response of the savannah/desert system to large climatic shifts over a region especially sensitive to these oscillations. Validated models will be projected onto ensemble climate projections for the late 21st century, providing robust predictions of the future distribution of these key plant species.

Some papers of interest

Macias-Fauria M., and Willis, K.J. (2012) Landscape planning for the future: using fossil records to independently validate Bioclimate Envelope Models for economically valuable tree species in Europe.Global Ecology and Biogeography (in press).