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The Fate of Endangered Rock Sedge (Carex rupestris) in the Western Carpathians—The Future Perspective of an Arctic-Alpine Species under Climate Change

1
Institute of Botany, Plant Science and Biodiversity Center, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 845 23 Bratislava, Slovakia
2
Department of Biology and General Ecology, Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Technical University in Zvolen, Masaryka 24, 960 01 Zvolen, Slovakia
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Department of Ecosystem Biology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Branišovská 1760, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Botanical Garden of Comenius University, Botanická 3, 841 04 Bratislava, Slovakia
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Botanical Garden of Comenius University, Blatnica 315, 038 15 Blatnica, Slovakia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090172
Received: 31 July 2019 / Revised: 11 September 2019 / Accepted: 16 September 2019 / Published: 19 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Diversity)
Carex rupestris is an endangered and rare arctic-alpine element of the Western Carpathian flora. Given the geographically isolated and spatially restricted peripheral ranges of arctic-alpine species, there is a good chance that many species of conservation concern irreversibly disappear from the regional flora under the ongoing climate change. In this study, we gathered all existing data on the presence of C. rupestris and focused on its current and future distribution in the Western Carpathians. We found that although the distribution of the species is fragmented and scarce, C. rupestris occurs in several mountain ranges, in four distinct plant community types, which differ considerably in altitude, geological bedrock, and other habitat characteristics. In contrast to the relatively broad range of occupied habitats, C. rupestris shows a narrow temperature niche (mean annual temperature range 0.4–4.0 °C). Ensembles of small models based on climatic characteristics and local topography show that regardless of the climate change scenario (rcp2.6, rcp8.5), many current occurrence sites, mainly in the peripheral zones of the range, will face the excessive loss of suitable environmental conditions. It is expected that the Tatra Mountains will be the only mountain range retaining potentially suitable habitats and providing possible refugia for this cold-adapted species in the future. Such severe shrinkage of distribution ranges and associated geographic isolation raises serious concerns for the fate of the arctic-alpine species in the Western Carpathians. View Full-Text
Keywords: arctic-alpine vegetation; biodiversity; climate change; conservation; ensemble of small models; refugia; Western Carpathians arctic-alpine vegetation; biodiversity; climate change; conservation; ensemble of small models; refugia; Western Carpathians
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Svitková, I.; Svitok, M.; Petrík, A.; Bernátová, D.; Senko, D.; Šibík, J. The Fate of Endangered Rock Sedge (Carex rupestris) in the Western Carpathians—The Future Perspective of an Arctic-Alpine Species under Climate Change. Diversity 2019, 11, 172.

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