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Non-Pessimistic Predictions of the Distributions and Suitability of Metasequoia glyptostroboides under Climate Change Using a Random Forest Model

by Xiaoyan Zhang 1,2, Haiyan Wei 2,*, Xuhui Zhang 1,2, Jing Liu 1,2, Quanzhong Zhang 1,2 and Wei Gu 1,3,*
1
National Engineering Laboratory for Resource Development of Endangered Crude Drugs in Northwest China, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119, China
2
School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119, China
3
College of Life Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(1), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11010062
Received: 20 November 2019 / Revised: 21 December 2019 / Accepted: 31 December 2019 / Published: 4 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Inventory, Quantitative Methods and Remote Sensing)
Metasequoia glyptostroboides Hu & W. C. Cheng, which is a remarkable rare relict plant, has gradually been reduced to its current narrow range due to climate change. Understanding the comprehensive distribution of M. glyptostroboides under climate change on a large spatio-temporal scale is of great significance for determining its forest adaptation. In this study, based on 394 occurrence data and 10 bioclimatic variables, the global potential distribution of M. glyptostroboides under eight different climate scenarios (i.e., the past three, the current one, and the next four) from the Quaternary glacial to the future was simulated by a random forest model built with the biomod2 package. The key bioclimatic variables affecting the distribution of M. glyptostroboides are BIO2 (mean diurnal range), BIO1 (annual mean temperature), BIO9 (mean temperature of driest quarter), BIO6 (min temperature of coldest month), and BIO18 (precipitation of warmest quarter). The result indicates that the temperature affects the potential distribution of M. glyptostroboides more than the precipitation. A visualization of the results revealed that the current relatively suitable habitats of M. glyptostroboides are mainly distributed in East Asia and Western Europe, with a total area of approximately 6.857 × 106 km2. With the intensification of global warming in the future, the potential distribution and the suitability of M. glyptostroboides have a relatively non-pessimistic trend. Whether under the mild (RCP4.5) and higher (RCP8.5) emission scenarios, the total area of suitable habitats will be wider than it is now by the 2070s, and the habitat suitability will increase to varying degrees within a wide spatial range. After speculating on the potential distribution of M. glyptostroboides in the past, the glacial refugia of M. glyptostroboides were inferred, and projections regarding the future conditions of these places are expected to be optimistic. In order to better protect the species, the locations of its priority protected areas and key protected areas, mainly in Western Europe and East Asia, were further identified. Our results will provide theoretical reference for the long-term management of M. glyptostroboides, and can be used as background information for the restoration of other endangered species in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; Metasequoia glyptostroboides Hu & W. C. Cheng; random forest; potential distribution; glacial refugia; protected areas climate change; Metasequoia glyptostroboides Hu & W. C. Cheng; random forest; potential distribution; glacial refugia; protected areas
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Zhang, X.; Wei, H.; Zhang, X.; Liu, J.; Zhang, Q.; Gu, W. Non-Pessimistic Predictions of the Distributions and Suitability of Metasequoia glyptostroboides under Climate Change Using a Random Forest Model. Forests 2020, 11, 62.

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