Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 457–471

Regional climate model downscaling may improve the prediction of alien plant species distributions

  • Shuyan Liu
  • Xin-Zhong Liang
  • Wei Gao
  • Thomas J. Stohlgren
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11707-014-0457-4

Cite this article as:
Liu, S., Liang, XZ., Gao, W. et al. Front. Earth Sci. (2014) 8: 457. doi:10.1007/s11707-014-0457-4

Abstract

Distributions of invasive species are commonly predicted with species distribution models that build upon the statistical relationships between observed species presence data and climate data. We used field observations, climate station data, and Maximum Entropy species distribution models for 13 invasive plant species in the United States, and then compared the models with inputs from a General Circulation Model (hereafter GCM-based models) and a downscaled Regional Climate Model (hereafter, RCM-based models).We also compared species distributions based on either GCM-based or RCM-based models for the present (1990–1999) to the future (2046–2055).

RCM-based species distribution models replicated observed distributions remarkably better than GCM-based models for all invasive species under the current climate. This was shown for the presence locations of the species, and by using four common statistical metrics to compare modeled distributions. For two widespread invasive taxa (Bromus tectorum or cheatgrass, and Tamarix spp. or tamarisk), GCM-based models failed miserably to reproduce observed species distributions. In contrast, RCM-based species distribution models closely matched observations. Future species distributions may be significantly affected by using GCM-based inputs. Because invasive plants species often show high resilience and low rates of local extinction, RCM-based species distribution models may perform better than GCM-based species distribution models for planning containment programs for invasive species.

Keywords

climate change species distribution model Maxent downscaling 

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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuyan Liu
    • 1
  • Xin-Zhong Liang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Gao
    • 3
  • Thomas J. Stohlgren
    • 4
  1. 1.Earth System Science Interdisciplinary CenterUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecosystem Science and SustainabilityColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Fort Collins Science CenterU.S. Geological SurveyFort CollinsUSA

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