Landscape Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 115–128 | Cite as

Assessing the potential impacts of climate change on the alpine habitat suitability of Japanese stone pine (Pinus pumila)

  • Masahiro HorikawaEmail author
  • Ikutaro Tsuyama
  • Tetsuya Matsui
  • Yuji Kominami
  • Nobuyuki Tanaka
Research Article


To assess the potential distribution of Pinus pumila, a dominant species of the Japanese alpine zone, and areas of its habitats vulnerable to global warming, we predicted potential habitats under the current climate and two climate change scenarios (RCM20 and MIROC) for 2081–2100 using the classification tree (CT) model. The presence/absence records of Ppumila were extracted from the Phytosociological Relevé Database as response variables, and five climatic variables (warmth index, WI; minimum temperature for the coldest month, TMC; summer precipitation, PRS; maximum snow water equivalent, MSW; winter rainfall, WR) were used as predictor variables. Prediction accuracy of the CT evaluated by ROC analysis showed an AUC value of 0.97, being categorized as “excellent”. We designated Third Mesh cells with an occurrence probability of 0.01 or greater as potential habitats and further divided them into suitable and marginal habitats based on the optimum threshold probability value (0.06) in ROC analysis. Deviance weighted scores revealed that WI was the largest contributing factor followed by MSW. Changes in habitat types from the current climate to the two scenarios were depicted within an observed distribution (Hayashi’s distribution data). The area of suitable habitats under the current climate decreased to 25.0% and to 14.7% under the RCM20 and MIROC scenarios, respectively. Suitable habitats were predicted to remain on high mountains of two unconnected regions, central Honshu and Hokkaido, while they were predicted to vanish in Tohoku and southwestern Hokkaido. Thus Ppumila populations in these regions are vulnerable to climate change.


Phytosociological relevé database (PRDB) Climatic variables Classification tree model ROC analysis Regional climate model (RCM20) Model for interdisciplinary research on climate (MIROC) Vulnerable area Empty habitats Sustainable habitats 



We would like to thank Daimaru H, Kajimoto T, Saito S and Nakazono E for their useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was funded by the Global Environmental Research of Japan (S-4) program, the Ministry of the Environment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masahiro Horikawa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ikutaro Tsuyama
    • 1
  • Tetsuya Matsui
    • 2
  • Yuji Kominami
    • 3
  • Nobuyuki Tanaka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant EcologyForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Hokkaido Research StationForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteSapporoJapan
  3. 3.Kansai Research CenterForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteKyotoJapan

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