Response of Species and Plant Community Distributions to Climate Change in Tropical Rain Forests, Thailand

Climate change causes effects on biodiversity and conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. This research conducted in Tung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng World Heritage Site aims to map the distributions of important trees and plant communities and to assess shifts in distributions as the results of future climate change. Occurrences of trees were gathered from nationwide forest resource inventory. Maxent model was used to predict the distribution of trees; while cluster analysis and geographic information system (GIS) were employed to classify plant communities. One hundred tree species, including 28 evergreen species and 72 deciduous species had adequate records for modeling. The results revealed that quarterly rainfall patterns and average extreme temperature were more important to distribution of tree than annual rainfall and mean annual temperature. In the future, 68% of selected evergreen species would have less extent of occurrence and 30 species (evergreen and deciduous species) would shift their distributions greater than 30% from the current. These 100 species were clustered into 10 communities. The communities located in hill evergreen forest and dry evergreen forest would have less area in the future but the communities found in moist mixed deciduous forest would have more area as the consequences of additional annual rainfall of 200 mm, less rainfall in dry season of 90 mm, and mean annual temperature increase of 3°C in the future.

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