Second year of SoBEx

Overview

The second year of SoBEx has been hard, since due to covid-19 restrictions our team was not able to work properly or conduct field research for all the species we study.

What has been done

So far we have conducted molecular/genetic analyses for most of the studied animal and plant taxa. We have also run several macroecological analyses so as to estimate the effects of climate change on these Critically Endangered species, as well as to estimate the percent overlap of these species’ distribution range with the NATURA 2000 protected areas network (PAs - gap analysis). We ran correlative Species Distribution Models in an ESM ensemble framework, since we were dealing with very rare species. We have also published part of our work in Diversity and you can find the relevant publication, which made the front cover of this journal here and here. This publication focused on the effects of climate change on the distribution of the Cretan single island endemic plants that are included in SoBEx. We are now working on a second manuscript that deals with the conservation genetics of Aethionema retsina, Allium iatrouinum and Convolvulus heldreichii.

According to the SDM analyses, all of the species under study are projected to become extinct in the coming decades, under any Global Circulation Model (GCM), Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) and climate database combination (for instance: Figure 1 or Figure2). Bioclimatic consinstency for our predictions is high, irrespective of the taxon considered (for instance: Figure 3). The median percentage loss was 100% across all species. Our models had sufficient predictive power (TSS \(\geq 0.75\) - median TSS: 0.78). All models were found to outperform the null expectation at P \(< 0.05\).

Occurrence probability map of Chorthippus lacustris for the present time-period

Figure 1: Occurrence probability map of Chorthippus lacustris for the present time-period

Occurrence probability map of Pelophylax cerigensis for the present time-period

Figure 2: Occurrence probability map of Pelophylax cerigensis for the present time-period

Bioclimatic consistency maps for Allium iatrouinum and Aethionema retsina. From left to right: based on WorldClim; based on CHELSA.

Figure 3: Bioclimatic consistency maps for Allium iatrouinum and Aethionema retsina. From left to right: based on WorldClim; based on CHELSA.

According to the gap analysis, the distribution range of the species under study varied from 0.001 km2 to 9756.2 km2. Two gastropods, namely Lindbergia gittenbergeri and Tsoukatosia evauemgei, occur exclusively outside any PA. Thirteen species (nine plants and four gastropods) on the other hand, occur exclusively in PAs. The mean percentage overlap is 48.1%, yet most species (ca. 60%) occur outside the Greek PAs for at least half of their distribution range (Figure 4). The mean percentage overlap was highest in plants (67.6%), followed by molluscs (47.4%), arthropods (39.7%) and vertebrates (17.1%).

Results of the gap analysis for the studied taxa

Figure 4: Results of the gap analysis for the studied taxa

Regarding the genetic diversity analyses, almost for the entirety of the studied taxa, genetic diversity is low, as expected for organisms with small population sizes, that are taxonomically and geographicall isolated.

You can find more information here.

This project has received funding from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI) and the General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT), under grant agreement No [2418].

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Kostas Kougioumoutzis
Post-Doctoral Researcher

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