Assessing vulnerability of two Mediterranean conifers to support genetic conservation management in the face of climate change



Serra‐Varela MJ, Alía R, Daniels RR, Zimmermann NE, Gonzalo‐Jiménez J & Grivet D (2017) Assessing vulnerability of two Mediterranean conifers to support genetic conservation management in the face of climate change. Brotons L (Editor) Diversity and Distributions, 23 (5), pp. 507-516.

Aim To integrate two major components of vulnerability to climate change: adaptive capacity (approached by genetic groups) and exposure (approached by risk of habitat loss) illustrated with the maritime (Pinus pinaster Ait.) and Aleppo (Pinus halepensis Mill.) pines. To integrate such information in the selection of conservation strategies (ex situ vs. in situ) and to evaluate current European efforts in the conservation of forest genetic resources. Location Mediterranean Basin and European Atlantic coast. Methods With the objective of preserving the overall genetic diversity of our two target species, we individually assess each of their genetic groups. We fit a species distribution model and project it to current climate and 42 different future climatic predictions. We create future suitability maps to assess risk of habitat loss based on the number of future climate projections that predict suitability. According to this assessment on the risk of habitat loss, we propose suitable conservation strategies. Results We found areas suitable for in situ conservation for most of the genetic groups, the exception being the central–eastern–southern Iberian genetic groups of maritime pine and the Moroccan genetic group of Aleppo pine which required ex situ conservation. In the current European conservation network, three genetic groups for maritime pine and two for Aleppo pine remain unrepresented, and the representation of the rest is unbalanced. Main conclusions We provide a tool to support conservation management of forest trees, an increasingly important task given the negative impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. We also provide a framework to increase the efficiency of the European conservation network: (i) exposure assessment should be considered as a requirement for a population to become a dynamic conservation unit (DCU); and (ii) as illustrated with our two target species, the selection of DCUs should represent all existing genetic groups.

Aleppo pine; conservation biology; maritime pine; Pinus halepensis; Pinus pinaster; species distribution models

Diversity and Distributions: Volume 23, Issue 5

Publication date31/05/2017
Publication date online31/03/2017
Date accepted by journal01/03/2017

People (1)


Dr Rose Ruiz Daniels

Dr Rose Ruiz Daniels

Lecturer in Aquaculture Genomics, Institute of Aquaculture