Ecological Research

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 989–1003 | Cite as

Contemporary and future distribution patterns of fluvial vegetation under different climate change scenarios and implications for integrated water resource management

  • João Rocha
  • Samantha Jane Hughes
  • Paulo Almeida
  • Isabel Garcia-Cabral
  • Franciso Amich
  • António L. Crespí
Original Article


Knowledge of plant community structure and how it can confer resistance to climate change effects is required for the management of fluvial ecosystems. Findings from such studies can be applied in decision making processes to implement measures to maintain, conserve or improve fluvial quality. Floristic and environmental data from 100 sample stations located in three River Basin Districts in northern Portugal were gathered as part of the 2010 Water Framework Directive monitoring program carried out on mainland Portugal. Three habitat types were characterized based on the flow dynamic level: the wetted channel, the bankfull area and the riparian gallery. Hierarchical cluster analysis of environmental data revealed three distinct environmental groups of sites. Floristic data were organized by these environmental groups characterized by altitudinal, temperature and precipitation data variables. The combination of taxonomic diversity and species frequency reflect functional differences for these habitats, here explained by a resistance and resilience approach. More low-frequency species and higher levels of functional diversity occurred at stations with more variable environmental conditions. Predictive modelling of the future distribution of the three environmental groups under two different climate scenarios supported the relevance of low-frequency traits in conferring resistance to climatic change effects.


Fluvial vegetation Species frequency Floristic-structural characterization Environmental variability Climate change 



This work was carried out as part of the “Assessment of Ecological Sustainability of Fluvial Habitats of Protected or Classified Areas in the Minho/Lima Hydrographical Region V01/2010” contract 2010–2011 between the Northern River Basin District Administrative Body and the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. The authors would like to thank FCT-Foundation of Science and Technology Science for João Rocha´s doctoral grant SFRH/BD/43167/2008. Samantha Jane Hughes is SUSTAINSYS funded post-doctoral fellow—North-07-0124-FEDER-0000044, financed by the Regional Operational Program North (ON. 2—The New North), under the National Strategic Framework (NSRF), through the European Regional Development Fund and PIDDAC via the Foundation for Science and Technology. This work was also supported by European Union Funds (FEDER/COMPETE—Operational Competitiveness Programme) and by national funds (FCT—Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) under the project FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-022692.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 242 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • João Rocha
    • 1
  • Samantha Jane Hughes
    • 2
  • Paulo Almeida
    • 3
  • Isabel Garcia-Cabral
    • 3
  • Franciso Amich
    • 4
  • António L. Crespí
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.CITAB-UTAD, Centre for Research and Technology of Agro-Environment and Biological Sciences, Department of Forestry and Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of Trás-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  3. 3.Herbarium, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  4. 4.Evolution, Taxonomy and Conservation Group (ECOMED), Department of BotanyUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  5. 5.CITAB-UTAD, Centre for Research and Technology of Agro-Environment and Biological SciencesUniversity of Trás-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal

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