, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 51-61

Modelling effects of habitat fragmentation on the ability of trees to respond to climatic warming

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The ability of trees to migrate in response to climatic warming was simulated under various conditions of habitat availability. The model uses Holocene tree migration rates to approximate maximum migration rates in a forested landscape. Habitat availability and local population size was varied systematically under two dispersal and colonization models. These dispersal models varied in the likelihood of long-distance dispersal events. The first model used a negative exponential function that severely limited the probability of long-distance dispersal. The results of this model indicate that migration rate could decline an order of magnitude where the habitat availability is reduced from 80 to 20% of the matrix. The second model, using an inverse power function, carried a higher probability of long-distance dispersal events. The results from this model predict relatively small declines in migration rates when habitat availability is reduced to 50% of the simulation matrix. Below 50% habitat availability, mean migration rate was similar to the negative exponential model. These results predict a failure of many trees to respond to future climatic change through range expansion.