Taking the escalator to extinction: Understanding the role of rapid forest expansion in driving hotspots of extinction risk for endemic species in Tai

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: Biological and Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Despite an abundance of data quantifying and predicting the response of forest distribution to ongoing climatic changes in temperate and boreal regions, there is a near absence of data, and hence little understanding, of how tropical mountain systems will respond to climate change(1). While we understand that forests are often expanding rapidly at high elevation as temperatures warm, little attention has been given to the implications of such changes for plants above the forest limit (2,3). Data frequently demonstrate upward migration of such alpine species also, however, with highly limited habitat availability at high altitude, such upward migration is dubbed the 'elevator to extinction' since once at the highest elevations, such alpine species have no-where left to go (4). Data on high elevation extinction risk are, however, vanishingly rare. This significant knowledge gap has major implications for our ability to predict future impacts of environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem services (5).
Previous work by the supervisory team in the region has identified rapid shifts in the altitudinal distribution of alpine plant species driven directly by rising temperature and through displacement due to elevation of the mountain treeline (4). However, expansion of forest at the treeline is highly heterogeneous; expanding rapidly in some areas but remaining static in others (6). While elevational shifts of forest risk alpine plant extinction, spatial heterogeneity in advance allows a mechanism for continued coexistence (7).

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007431/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2027
2436971 Studentship NE/S007431/1 01/10/2020 31/10/2024 Catherine Mercer
 
Description As a result of the award I have made significant progress with methods development for modelling alpine species distributions and mapping alpine habitats. I have also built collaborations with colleagues in Taiwan.
Exploitation Route The methods can be applied to other study systems and the distribution records recorded can be used in future research.
Sectors Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy

 
Description Building broad collaborations with academic and non-academic institutions that will lead to future research projects investigating climate change impacts on mountain systems, with a focus on Taiwan.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description UK-Canada Globalink doctoral exchange scheme
Amount £10,556 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/X007871/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2022 
End 08/2023
 
Description UK-Canada Globalink doctoral exchange scheme
Amount $3,000 (CAD)
Organisation Mitacs 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Canada
Start 08/2022 
End 08/2023
 
Description Alistair Jump 
Organisation University of Stirling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Methods development, intellectual input, analysis
Collaborator Contribution Mentorship, advice on methods development
Impact At least three journal articles will be published as a result of this collaboration
Start Year 2020
 
Description Daniel Chapman 
Organisation University of Stirling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Intellectual input, methods development, research design
Collaborator Contribution Mentorship, intellectual input, advise on methods development
Impact At least three articles will be published as a result of this collaboration
Start Year 2020
 
Description Daniel Donoghue 
Organisation Durham University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Intellectual input, research design, methods development
Collaborator Contribution Mentorship, intellectual input, advice on methods and research design
Impact atleast three papers will be published as a result of this collaboration
Start Year 2020
 
Description Jan-Chang Chen 
Organisation National Pingtung University of Science and Technology
Country Taiwan, Province of China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Intellectual input, methods development, fieldwork planning
Collaborator Contribution Fieldwork assistants, logistical support in Taiwan, methods development advice
Impact Atleast three articles will be published as a result of this collaboration
Start Year 2020
 
Description Lori Daniels 
Organisation University of British Columbia
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Writing of grant application, methods development
Collaborator Contribution Advice on grant proposal and methods development, mentorship
Impact At least one paper will be published as a result of this partnership
Start Year 2022
 
Description Sarah Watts collaboration, University of Stirling 
Organisation University of Stirling
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-authored a paper investigating the elevator-to-extinction phenomenon in Scottish arctic-alpine plants.
Collaborator Contribution Methods development of statistical analysis that generated a significant proportion of the results reported in the co-authored article.
Impact The main outcome has been a co-authored journal article. The reference for the journal article is given below: Watts, S. H., Mardon, D. K., Mercer, C., Watson, D., Cole, H., Shaw, R. F., and Jump, A. S. (2022). Riding the elevator to extinction: Disjunct arctic-alpine plants of open habitats decline as their more competitive neighbours expand. Biological Conservation, 272, 109620. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2022.109620.
Start Year 2021