Climate change will lead to loss of range for many species, and thus to loss of genetic diversity crucial for their long-term persistence. We analysed range-wide genetic diversity (amplified fragment length polymorphisms) in 9581 samples from 1200 populations of 27 northern plant species, to assess genetic consequences of range reduction and potential association with species traits. We used species distribution modelling (SDM, eight techniques, two global circulation models and two emission scenarios) to predict loss of range and genetic diversity by 2080. Loss of genetic diversity varied considerably among species, and this variation could be explained by dispersal adaptation (up to 57%) and by genetic differentiation among populations (FST; up to 61%). Herbs lacking adaptations for long-distance dispersal were estimated to lose genetic diversity at higher rate than dwarf shrubs adapted to long-distance dispersal. The expected range reduction in these 27 northern species was larger than reported for temperate plants, and all were predicted to lose genetic diversity according to at least one scenario. SDM combined with FST estimates and/or with species trait information thus allows the prediction of species' vulnerability to climate change, aiding rational prioritization of conservation efforts.
↵† Joint senior authors.
- Received November 9, 2011.
- Accepted December 5, 2011.
- This journal is © 2012 The Royal Society
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