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Disregarding the edaphic dimension in species distribution models leads to the omission of crucial spatial information under climate change: the case of Quercus pubescens in France

Publication Year


  • Bertrand, Romain
  • Perez, Vincent
  • Gegout, Jean-Claude
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY Volume: 18 Issue: 8 Pages: 2648-2660 Published: 2012
1354-1013 eISSN: 1365-2486

Species distribution modelling is an easy, persuasive and useful tool for anticipating species distribution shifts under global change. Numerous studies have used only climate variables to predict future potential species range shifts and have omitted environmental factors important for determining species distribution. Here, we assessed the importance of the edaphic dimension in the niche-space definition of Quercus pubescens and in future spatial projections under global change over the metropolitan French forest territory. We fitted two species distribution models (SDM) based on presence/absence data (111 similar to 013 plots), one calibrated from climate variables only (mean temperature of January and climatic water balance of July) and the other one from both climate and edaphic (soil pH inferred from plants) variables. Future predictions were conducted under two climate scenarios (PCM B2 and HadCM3 A2) and based on 100 simulations using a cellular automaton that accounted for seed dispersal distance, landscape barriers preventing migration and unsuitable land cover. Adding the edaphic dimension to the climate-only SDM substantially improved the niche-space definition of Q. pubescens, highlighting an increase in species tolerance in confronting climate constraints as the soil pH increased. Future predictions over the 21st century showed that disregarding the edaphic dimension in SDM led to an overestimation of the potential distribution area, an underestimation of the spatial fragmentation of this area, and prevented the identification of local refugia, leading to an underestimation of the northward shift capacity of Q. pubescens and its persistence in its current distribution area. Spatial discrepancies between climate-only and climate-plus-edaphic models are strengthened when seed dispersal and forest fragmentation are accounted for in predicting a future species distribution area. These discrepancies highlight some imprecision in spatial predictions of potential distribution area of species under climate change scenarios and possibly wrong conclusions for conservation and management perspectives when climate-only models are used.

Author Keyword(s)
  • bio-indication
  • cellular automaton
  • downy oak
  • generalized additive model (GAM)
  • migration
  • simRShift
  • soil pH
  • spatial fragmentation
  • species refugia
KeyWord(s) Plus
  • SOIL
  • TREE
ESI Discipline(s)
  • Environment/Ecology
Web of Science Category(ies)
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences

[Bertrand, Romain; Perez, Vincent; Gegout, Jean-Claude] AgroParisTech, ENGREF, Lab Etud Ressources Foret Bois LERFoB, UMR1092, F-54000 Nancy, France; [Bertrand, Romain; Perez, Vincent; Gegout, Jean-Claude] Ctr Nancy, INRA, Lab Etud Ressources Foret Bois LERFoB, UMR1092, F-54280 Champenoux, France

Reprint Adress

Bertrand, R (reprint author), AgroParisTech, ENGREF, Lab Etud Ressources Foret Bois LERFoB, UMR1092, 14 Rue Girardet, F-54000 Nancy, France.

  • France
CNRS - Adress(es)

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