Integrating climate change into agroforestry conservation: a case study on native plant species in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

Published online
23 Jan 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Lima, V. P. & Lima, R. A. F. de & Joner, F. & D'Orangeville, L. & Raes, N. & Siddique, I. & Steege, H. ter
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Designing multispecies systems with suitable climatic affinity and identifying species' vulnerability under human-driven climate change are current challenges to achieve successful adaptation of natural systems. To address this problem, we need to (1) identify groups of species with climatic similarity under climate scenarios and (2) identify areas with high conservation value under predicted climate change. To recognize species with similar climatic niche requirements that can be grouped for mixed cropping in Brazil, we employed ecological niche models (ENMs) and Spearman's ρ for overlap. We also used prioritization algorithms to map areas of high conservation value using two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5) to assess mid-term (2041-2060) and long-term (2061-2080) climate change impacts. We identified 15 species groups with finer climatic affinities at different times depicted on hierarchical clustering dendrograms, which can be combined into agroecological agroforestry systems. Furthermore, we highlight the climatically suitable areas for these groups of species, thus providing an outlook of where different species will need to be planted over time to be conserved. In addition, we observed that climate change is predicted to modify the spatial association of these groups under different future climate scenarios, causing a mean negative change in species climatic similarity of 9.5% to 13.7% under SSP2-4.5 scenario and 9.5% to 10.5% under SSP5-8.5, for 2041-2060 and 2061-2080, respectively. Synthesis and applications. Our findings provide a framework for agroforestry conservation. The groups of species with finer climatic affinities identified and the climatically suitable areas can be combined into agroecological productive systems, and provide an outlook of where different species may be planted over time. In addition, the conservation priority zones displaying high climate stability for each species individually and all at once can be incorporated into Brazil's conservation plans by policymakers to prioritize specific sites. Lastly, we urge policymakers, conservation organizations and donors to promote interventions involving farmers and local communities, since the species' evaluated have proven to maintain landscapes with productive forest fragments and can be conserved in different Brazilian ecosystems.

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