Climatic Change

, Volume 156, Issue 1–2, pp 15–30 | Cite as

Climate change increases potential plant species richness on Puerto Rican uplands

  • Azad Henareh KhalyaniEmail author
  • William A. Gould
  • Michael J. Falkowski
  • Robert Muscarella
  • María Uriarte
  • Foad Yousef


Modeling climate change effects on species and communities is critical especially in isolated islands. We analyzed the potential effects of climate change on 200 plant species in Puerto Rico under two emission scenarios and in four periods over the twenty-first century. Our approach was based on ensemble bioclimatic modeling using eight modeling algorithms and community richness analysis. Our findings showed that the probabilities of environmental suitability decline for wet climate species and increase for drier and warm climate species in the future periods under both emission scenarios, with stronger effects under the higher emission scenario. Expansion of dry climate species to higher elevations appears to be a prominent response of species to climatic change in the island based on changes in environmental suitability but the actual species redistribution will be influenced by their life histories, potential adaptation, dispersal abilities, species introductions, and species interactions. This potential movement leads to a spatial pattern of species richness at site level that shows a positive relationship with elevation, which becomes stronger in the later periods of the century. The spatial pattern of species richness, if combined with single species projections, can provide critical information for conservation management in the island. Conservation management can support island-wide biological diversity by protecting the wet climate species on the uplands.



We thank Dr. Ariel Lugo for his cases of advice and Dr. Thomas Brandeis for sharing the Puerto Rico tree assemblages data in Brandeis et al. (2009).

Funding information

This study was funded by the USDA Caribbean Climate Hub.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10584_2019_2491_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Appendix I (DOCX 23 kb)
10584_2019_2491_MOESM2_ESM.docx (878 kb)
Appendix II (DOCX 878 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resource Ecology LaboratoryColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest ServiceSan JuanUSA
  3. 3.Department of Bioscience - Ecoinformatics and BiodiversityAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental BiologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Foad Yousef, Department of BiologyWestminster CollegeSalt Lake CityUSA

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