Protected areas may not effectively support conservation of endangered forest plants under climate change

  • Chun-Jing Wang
  • Ji-Zhong Wan
  • Gang-Min Zhang
  • Zhi-Xiang Zhang
  • Jing Zhang
Original Article


Protected areas (PAs) play an important role in the conservation of valuable forest resources, and an increasing number of areas are being designated as PAs worldwide. However, climate change could drive endangered forest plants out of PAs, and impact the function of PAs to conserve endangered forest plants. Hence, it is necessary for conservation biologists to put forward a simple method to evaluate the ability of PAs to conserve endangered forest plants. Here, we studied 61 endangered forest plants from three ecoregions in China. We applied species distribution modeling to project suitable habitats of endangered forest plants, and used geographical information system to compute whether PAs could support the conservation of endangered forest plants. With climate change caused by increasing gas concentration, the overall ability of PAs to support the conservation of endangered forest plants will likely decrease compared to the conservation needs of ecoregions. We found that PAs have varying abilities to conserve endangered forest plants in different ecoregions. For temperate broadleaf mixed forests and tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, we found that climate change will decrease the PAs’ ability to support the conservation of endangered forest plants effectively in the existing forest landscape. In contrast, we found that temperate conifer forests will likely remain effective. Using this information, we proposed the conservation plans for different ecoregions under climate change. For PAs with limited ability to support the conservation of endangered forest plants in an ecoregion, we recommend expanding the areas of forests and PAs based on the suitable habitats of the endangered forest plants. For PAs with stable ability to support the conservation of endangered forest plants in an ecoregion, we recommend expanding the conservation areas in PAs.


Conservation area Forest plant species Climate change Forest landscape Maxent Ecoregion China 



This research was supported by the project entrusted to the Protection Division under the State Forestry Bureau, “Investigation and in situ conservation of Pyrus hopeiensis, the plant species with extremely small populations” (2) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (BLYJ201501). We thank the following National Nature Reserves for the use of their species data: Banqiao, Gujingyuan, Qingliangfeng, Songshan, Daiyunshan, E’meifeng, Longqishan, Minjianghekoushidi, Minjiangyuan, Tingjiangyuan, Xiongjianghuangchulin, Zhangjiangkouhongshulinshidi, Gansulianhuashan, Qinzhouzhenxishuishengyeshengdongwu, Taizishan, Yuhe, Haifengniaolei, Lianzhoutianxin, Luokeng’exi, Shimentai, Xiangtoushan, Yunkaishan, Bangliangchangbiyuan, Chongzuobaitouyehou, Daguishan’exi, Dayaoshan, Encheng, Fangchengjinhuacha, Huaping, Jiuwanshan, Qichong, Shiwandashan, Yinzhulaoshanziyuanlengshan, Yuanbaoshan, Dashahe, Fodingshan, Leigongshan, Yinggeling, Changlihuangjinhaian, Hengshuihu, Qingyazhai, Tuoliang, Xiaowutaishan, Baotianman, Henandabieshan, Gaoleshan, Huangheshidi, Jigongshan, Beijicun, Zhuonahe, Daxiagu, Mudanjiangdongbeihu, Dongfanghong, Duobuku’er, Fenglin, Heilongjiangfenghuangshan, Gongbielahe, Lingfeng, Maolangou, Mingshui, Mudanfeng, Pingdingshan, Qixingdongbeihu, Sanhuanpao, Shankou, Taipinggou, Wuyiling, Wuyu’erhe, Wudalianchi, Xiaobeihu, Xinqingbaitouhe, Youhao, Zhongyangzhanheizuisongji, Badongjinsihou, Duheyuan, Hubeidabieshan, Mulinzi, Nanhe, Qizimeishan, Saiwudang, Sanxiadalaoling, Shennongjia, Shibalichangxia, Wudaoxia, Xianfengzhongjianhedani, Xingdoushan, Yerengou, Baiyunshan, Dong’anshunhuangshan, Dongdongtinghu, Gaowangjie, Hupingshan, Jintongshan, Jiuyishan, Wuyunjie, Xidongtinghu, Baishanyuanshe, Boluohu, Hunchundongbeihu, Ji’an, Jingyu, Shihu, Wangqing, Yanminghu, Dafengmilu, Yanchengshidizhenqin, Ganjiangyuan, Jiulingshan, Lushan, Qiyunshan, Tongboshan, Wuyuansenlinniaolei, Yangjifeng, Bailiangshan, Daheishan, Hongluoshan, Louzishan, Nulu’erhushan, Qinglonghe, Shedaolaotieshan, Yalujiangkoushidi, Zhanggutai, A’lu, Bilahe, Gaogesitaihanwula, Hanshan, Hanma, Qingshan, Wulanba, Datongbeichuanheyuanqu, Huanghesanjiaozhou, Nansihu, Heichashan, Lingkongshan, Guanyinshan, Hanchenghuanglongshanhemaji, Huangbaiyuan, Huanglongshanhemaji, Luoyangzhenxishuishengdongwu, Micangshan, Motianling, Pingheliang, Taibaishan, Taibaixushuihe, Wuliangshan, Zhouzhilaoxiancheng, Anzihe, Baihe, Caopo, Gexigou, Heizhugou, Jiudingshan, Laojunshan, Liziping, Nuoshuihezhenxishuishengdongwu, Qianfoshan, Xiaozhaizigou, Xuebaoding, Ailaoshan, Daweishan, Jiaozishan, Lvchunhuanglianshan, Nan’gunhe, Tongbiguan, Wenshan, Wumengshan, Yuanjiang, Yunlongtianchi, Jiushanliedao, Wuyanling, Changxingyangzi’e, Dabashan, Jinfoshan, Wulipo, and Xuebaoshan.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chun-Jing Wang
    • 1
  • Ji-Zhong Wan
    • 1
  • Gang-Min Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhi-Xiang Zhang
    • 1
  • Jing Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Nature ConservationBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina

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