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Tree range dynamics under changing climates: a new modelling framework for reconstructing the past and predicting the future

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Climate change and tree distribution

Scientists have, for the first time, built a comprehensive model of species range for several European tree species. This will help predict how their distribution will change over time.

Climate Change and Environment

Climate change poses a great threat to biodiversity and normal functioning of Earth's ecosystems. One aspect to mitigating this impact is a better understanding of how climate change will affect the distribution of a given species. The EU-funded MOVINGTREES project built a framework that can predict changes in the distribution of European tree species in response to climate change. It relied on information from a variety of sources to achieve this. As a starting point, the framework used established statistical models, and incorporated data from the fossil record and new paleoclimate simulations. All this data was then used to reconstruct species distributions at 1 000-year intervals. The reconstruction covers a period from around 20 000 years ago up until the near future. Using this data, scientists can now see how species distribution has been affected by past climate events. This knowledge will allow for more reliable predictions of future changes in species distribution. Overall, MOVINGTREES outcomes will help scientists better prepare for the impact of climate change on ecosystems globally.

Keywords

Climate change, tree distribution, species range, tree species, biodiversity, ecosystems, paleoclimate, species distributions

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