Climate change will likely alter the seasonal and annual patterns of rainfall and temperature in Hawai`i. This is a major concern for resource managers at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park where intensely managed Special Ecological Areas (SEAs), focal sites for managing rare and endangered plants, may no longer provide suitable habitat under future climate. Expanding invasive species’ distributions also may pose a threat to areas where native plants currently predominate. We combine recent climate modeling efforts for the state of Hawai`i with plant species distribution models to forecast changes in biodiversity in SEAs under future climate conditions. Based on this bioclimatic envelope model, we generated projected species range maps for four snapshots in time (2000, 2040, 2070, and 2090) to assess whether the range of 39 native and invasive species of management interest are expected to contract, expand, or remain the same under a moderately warmer and more variable precipitation scenario. Approximately two-thirds of the modeled native species were projected to contract in range, while one-third were shown to increase. Most of the park’s SEAs were projected to lose a majority of the native species modeled. Nine of the 10 modeled invasive species were projected to contract within the park; this trend occurred in most SEAs, including those at low, middle, and high elevations. There was good congruence in the current (2000) distribution of species richness and SEA configuration; however, the congruence between species richness hotspots and SEAs diminished by the end of this century. Over time the projected species-rich hotspots increasingly occurred outside of current SEA boundaries. Our research brought together managers and scientists to increase understanding of potential climate change impacts, and provide needed information to address how plants may respond under future conditions relative to current managed areas.
Additional publication details
Potential impacts of projected climate change on vegetation management in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park