The Influence of Climate Change on distribution of an Endangered Medicinal Plant (Fritillaria Imperialis L.) in Central Zagros

Document Type: Research and Full Length Article

Authors

1 Department of Natural Resources and Earth Science, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran.

2 Faculty of Natural Resources and Earth Sciences, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, Iran.

Abstract

Climate change has a great impact on the species distribution range and many endangered plant species. Fritillaria imperialis as a species that is native to Central Zagros, Iran is a medicinal plant with great ecological and commercial profits. Its population has decreased considerably and the species would be endangered in later decades. Understanding the habitat needs of this species, evaluating habitat conditions, and forecasting its potential habitat are important for protecting F. imperialis. The presence of F. imperialis points recorded from our field surveys in Chaharmahal-va-Bakhtiari province as a part of Central Zagros, Iran in spring 2017. In order to model its distribution based on correlation analysis, two topographic variables and eight bioclimatic ones as the input of Maximum Entropy model (MaxEnt) were used. The results showed that temperature seasonality (55.1%) and precipitation of driest quarter (22.9%) were important factor drivers of F. imperialis suitable habitat. The accuracy of the maximum entropy model in predicting the distribution of the studied species was high (AUC=0.91) as 2.33% (37986 ha) in Chaharmahal-va-Bakhtiari Province for the F. imperialis, which has had suitability. About 18% and 16.5% of F. imperialis habitats in the area may be lost due to climate change by 2070 under two climate warming scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, given by the IPCC). As shown by the model, under the current climatic conditions, the suitable habitat would be rendered to an unsuitable one in the future resulting in local extinction. The results of this study can be used to identify sites with high extinction probability of F. imperialis and protect susceptible habitats against the effects of climate change.

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