Contemporary and future distribution patterns of fluvial vegetation under different climate change scenarios and implications for integrated water resource management

  • Rocha J
  • Hughes S
  • Almeida P
 et al. 
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Abstract

Knowledge of plant community structure and how it can confer resistance
to climate change effects is required for the management of fluvial
ecosystems. Findings from such studies can be applied in decision making
processes to implement measures to maintain, conserve or improve fluvial
quality. Floristic and environmental data from 100 sample stations
located in three River Basin Districts in northern Portugal were
gathered as part of the 2010 Water Framework Directive monitoring
program carried out on mainland Portugal. Three habitat types were
characterized based on the flow dynamic level: the wetted channel, the
bankfull area and the riparian gallery. Hierarchical cluster analysis of
environmental data revealed three distinct environmental groups of
sites. Floristic data were organized by these environmental groups
characterized by altitudinal, temperature and precipitation data
variables. The combination of taxonomic diversity and species frequency
reflect functional differences for these habitats, here explained by a
resistance and resilience approach. More low-frequency species and
higher levels of functional diversity occurred at stations with more
variable environmental conditions. Predictive modelling of the future
distribution of the three environmental groups under two different
climate scenarios supported the relevance of low-frequency traits in
conferring resistance to climatic change effects.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Climate change
  • Environmental variability
  • Floristic-structural characterization
  • Fluvial vegetation
  • Species frequency

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