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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Plant Diversity Patterns and Conservation Implications under Climate-Change Scenarios in the Mediterranean: The Case of Crete (Aegean, Greece)

1
Department of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, 15701 Athens, Greece
2
Division of Plant Biology, Laboratory of Botany, Department of Biology, University of Patras, 26504 Patras, Greece
3
Laboratory of Systematic Botany, Department of Crop Science, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 11855 Athens, Greece
4
Bakkevej 6, DK-5853 Ørbæk, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Diversity 2020, 12(7), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070270
Received: 10 June 2020 / Revised: 4 July 2020 / Accepted: 6 July 2020 / Published: 7 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation and Management of Island Ecosystems)
Climate change poses a great challenge for biodiversity conservation. Several studies exist regarding climate change’s impacts on European plants, yet none has investigated how climate change will affect the extinction risk of the entire endemic flora of an island biodiversity hotspot, with intense human disturbance. Our aim is to assess climate change’s impacts on the biodiversity patterns of the endemic plants of Crete (S Aegean) and provide a case-study upon which a climate-smart conservation planning strategy might be set. We employed a variety of macroecological analyses and estimated the current and future biodiversity, conservation and extinction hotspots in Crete. We evaluated the effectiveness of climatic refugia and the Natura 2000 network of protected areas (PAs) for protecting the most vulnerable species and identified the taxa of conservation priority based on the Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) index. The results revealed that high altitude areas of Cretan mountains constitute biodiversity hotspots and areas of high conservation and evolutionary value. Due to the “escalator to extinction” phenomenon, these areas are projected to become diversity “death-zones” and should thus be prioritised. Conservation efforts should be targeted at areas with overlaps among PAs and climatic refugia, characterised by high diversity and EDGE scores. This conservation-prioritisation planning will allow the preservation of evolutionary heritage, trait diversity and future ecosystem services for human well-being and acts as a pilot for similar regions worldwide. View Full-Text
Keywords: continental island; endemics; environmental management; extinction risk; Mediterranean flora; Natura 2000; species distribution modelling continental island; endemics; environmental management; extinction risk; Mediterranean flora; Natura 2000; species distribution modelling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kougioumoutzis, K.; Kokkoris, I.P.; Panitsa, M.; Trigas, P.; Strid, A.; Dimopoulos, P. Plant Diversity Patterns and Conservation Implications under Climate-Change Scenarios in the Mediterranean: The Case of Crete (Aegean, Greece). Diversity 2020, 12, 270. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070270

AMA Style

Kougioumoutzis K, Kokkoris IP, Panitsa M, Trigas P, Strid A, Dimopoulos P. Plant Diversity Patterns and Conservation Implications under Climate-Change Scenarios in the Mediterranean: The Case of Crete (Aegean, Greece). Diversity. 2020; 12(7):270. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070270

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kougioumoutzis, Konstantinos; Kokkoris, Ioannis P.; Panitsa, Maria; Trigas, Panayiotis; Strid, Arne; Dimopoulos, Panayotis. 2020. "Plant Diversity Patterns and Conservation Implications under Climate-Change Scenarios in the Mediterranean: The Case of Crete (Aegean, Greece)" Diversity 12, no. 7: 270. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12070270

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