Assessing the vulnerability of rare plants using climate change velocity, habitat connectivity and dispersal ability

  • Author / Creator
    Barber, Quinn E.
  • Climate change generally requires species to migrate northward or to higher elevation to maintain constant climate conditions, but migration requirement and migration capacity of individual species can vary greatly. Individual populations of species occupy different positions in the landscape that determine their required range shift to maintain similar climate, and likewise the migration capacity depends on habitat connectivity. Here, I demonstrate an approach to quantify species vulnerabilities to climate change for 419 rare vascular plants in Alberta, Canada based on multivariate velocity of climate change, local habitat fragmentation, and migration capacity. Climate change velocities indicated that future migration requirements ranged from 1 to 5 km/yr in topographically complex landscapes, such as the Alberta Foothills and Rocky Mountains. In contrast, migration requirements to maintain constant climate in relatively flat Boreal Plains, Parkland and Grassland ranged from 4 to 8 km/yr. Habitat fragmentation was also highest in these flat regions, particularly the Parkland Natural Region. Of the 419 rare vascular plants assessed, 36 were globally threatened (G1 to G3 ranking). Three of these globally threatened species were ranked as extremely vulnerable and five as highly vulnerable to the interactions among climate change velocity, habitat fragmentation and migration capacity. Incorporating dispersal characteristics and habitat fragmentation with local patterns in climate change velocity represents a streamlined vulnerability assessment approach that may be applied to guide conservation actions, particularly where detailed species-specific data is limited.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.