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Dispersal ability of threatened species affects future distributions

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To track future climate space, seed dispersal will be essential for plants, but dispersal ability is rarely measured or incorporated into species distribution models. Species distribution models (SDMs) can rank habitat suitability at a local scale, and they may be a valuable conservation planning tool for rare, patchily distributed species. Dispersal is essential for species to survive the threats of habitat destruction and climate change. Combining dispersal ability and habitat suitability at the landscape scale is important to understand and predict species spatial responses to environmental change. This study analyzed future species distributions based on habitat suitability and dispersal scenarios for 7 endangered and vulnerable taxa, using SDM and dispersal ability to predict the range of species distribution across central Italy in the near future 2050. Species distribution models (Ensembles of Small Models, ESMs) were carried out using 19 bioclimatic environmental variables downloaded from WorldClim 1.4. The study identified the most suitable area for this species in the central Apennines. The innovation of this study is the combination of SDMs with dispersal ability based on measured traits of local populations of rare species and subspecies. The main results show a combination of climate change with dispersal ability strongly affects the future potential distribution of the rare species. Thus, obtaining suitable and accessible areas in the near future possible is possible to identify the high suitable sites for the reinforcement of the natural population, ensuring habitat connectivity.

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This work was supported by Life Floranet (LIFE15 NAT/IT/000946).

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Correspondence to Valter Di Cecco.

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Di Musciano, M., Di Cecco, V., Bartolucci, F. et al. Dispersal ability of threatened species affects future distributions. Plant Ecol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-020-01009-0

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  • Terminal velocity
  • Seed dispersal
  • SDM
  • Connectivity
  • In situ conservation