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Genetic Data and Climate Niche Suitability Models Highlight the Vulnerability of a Functionally Important Plant Species from South-Eastern Australia

journal contribution
posted on 14.12.2020, 05:25 by AD Miller, C Nitschke, AR Weeks, WL Weatherly, Simon Heyes, SJ Sinclair, OJ Holland, A Stevenson, Linda Broadhurst, Susan Hoebee, CDH Sherman, John Morgan
© 2020 The Authors. Evolutionary Applications published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Habitat fragmentation imperils the persistence of many functionally important species, with climate change a new threat to local persistence due to climate niche mismatching. Predicting the evolutionary trajectory of species essential to ecosystem function under future climates is challenging but necessary for prioritizing conservation investments. We use a combination of population genetics and niche suitability models to assess the trajectory of a functionally important, but highly fragmented, plant species from south-eastern Australia (Banksia marginata, Proteaceae). We demonstrate significant genetic structuring among, and high level of relatedness within, fragmented remnant populations, highlighting imminent risks of inbreeding. Population simulations, controlling for effective population size (Ne), suggest that many remnant populations will suffer rapid declines in genetic diversity due to drift in the absence of intervention. Simulations were used to demonstrate how inbreeding and drift processes might be suppressed by assisted migration and population mixing approaches that enhance the size and connectivity of remnant populations. These analyses were complemented by niche suitability models that predicted substantial reductions of suitable habitat by 2080; ~30% of the current distribution of the species climate niche overlaps with the projected distribution of the species climate niche in the geographic region by the 2080s. Our study highlights the importance of conserving remnant populations and establishing new populations in areas likely to support B. marginata in the future, and adopting seed sourcing strategies that can help populations overcome the risks of inbreeding and maladaptation. We also argue that ecological replacement of B. marginata using climatically suited plant species might be needed in the future to maintain ecosystem processes where B. marginata cannot persist. We recommend the need for progressive revegetation policies and practices to prevent further deterioration of species such as B. marginata and the ecosystems they support.

History

Publication Date

01/09/2020

Journal

Evolutionary Applications

Volume

13

Issue

8

Pagination

16p. (p. 2014-2029)

Publisher

Wiley

ISSN

1752-4563

Rights Statement

The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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