Forecasting geographic patterns of population-level exposure, redistribution, and novel and disappearing genotypes of trees under climate change

Dr Matt Fitzpatrick1, Andrew Gougherty1, Dr Stephen Keller2

1University Of Maryland Center For Environmental Science, Frostburg, United States, 2University of Vermont, Burlington, United States

To avoid extirpation under rapid environmental change, species must either adapt or move to newly suitable habitats. Most modeling efforts ignore population-level variation in the relative importance of these two strategies and instead emphasize species-level predictions of geographic range shifts. For a boreal foundational tree species, balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), we combine genomic data, novel statistical approaches, and climate change scenarios to estimate population-level vulnerability to climate change as the combination of (i) exposure, (ii) migration (i.e., the shortest distance to the location with a future climate to which populations are preadapted), and (iii) the potential emergence of new (novel) genotypes and the extinction of existing (disappearing) genotypes. We found population-level vulnerability to climate change was greatest in the eastern portion of balsam poplar’s range, where exposure peaked, migration distances to the location with a future climate to which populations were preadapted were greatest, and where both novel and disappearing and genotypes were most likely. More broadly, our results suggest that population-level threats from climate change can vary across species ranges as a function of the relative importance of different potential strategies for avoiding extirpation, and provides a more nuanced view of climate change responses beyond that offered by existing species-level analyses.


Matt Fitzpatrick is Associate Professor at the Appalachian Laboratory of the

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Frostburg, MD. He is a quantitative global change ecologist interested in how climate drives ecological patterns and processes, with an emphasis on understanding the distribution of species, patterns of biodiversity, and range expansion of native and introduced organisms. His works spans terrestrial and aquatic systems and scales of biological organization from genes within genomes to species assemblages across the globe.

Species on the Move

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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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