iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Predicting the effect of climate change on tree species abundance and distribution at a regional scale

F Attorre (1)   , F Francesconi (1), L Scarnati (1), M De Sanctis (1), M Alfò (2), F Bruno (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 1, Issue 4, Pages 132-139 (2008)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor0467-0010132
Published: Aug 27, 2008 - Copyright © 2008 SISEF

Research Articles

The elaboration of conservation strategies at regional scale, dealing with the potential effects of climate change on the abundance and distribution of tree species, should be supported by models produced at the appropriate scale. We used a bioclimatic model aimed at analysing the large-scale effects of climate change on the abundance and distribution of tree species with respect to their chorological and ecological characteristics. Abundance data for 16 species, sampled in 912 plots, distributed on a 3x3 km grid were used. A climatic model provided high resolution current climatic surfaces and a climatic scenario for 2080 was obtained using the A1FI emission scenario of HadCM3 GCM. A deterministic Regression Tree Analysis (RTA) and Multiple Linear Regression (MLR) were applied in order to define the realised niche of the species in relation to the chosen environmental variables. The comparison between RMSE values showed that RTA always outperforms MLR, in terms of predicting species distribution. Zonal species were better predicted than rare species (extrazonal or with specific habitat requirements). Climate change is expected to determine a general increase of the average potential altitude. Only the Mediterranean species are likely to be favoured by the predicted climate change, while for the two other chorological types (Sub-Mediterranean and Eurosiberian) the response seems to be species-specific, depending on the ecological characteristic of each species: the more thermophilous and xerophilous species should benefit from the predicted drought in terms of area and mean abundance, while mesophilous species should suffer a strong reduction.


Climate change, Tree species, Central Italy, Potential distribution maps, Regional scale, Regression tree analysis

Authors’ address

F Attorre
F Francesconi
L Scarnati
M De Sanctis
F Bruno
Department of Plant Biology, “La Sapienza” University of Rome, p.le A. Moro 5, I-00185 Rome (Italy)
M Alfò
Department of Statistics, “La Sapienza” University of Rome, p.le A. Moro 5, I-00185 Rome (Italy)

Corresponding author


Attorre F, Francesconi F, Scarnati L, De Sanctis M, Alfò M, Bruno F (2008). Predicting the effect of climate change on tree species abundance and distribution at a regional scale. iForest 1: 132-139. - doi: 10.3832/ifor0467-0010132

Academic Editor

Gabriele Bucci

Paper history

Received: Jul 18, 2007
Accepted: Aug 13, 2008

First online: Aug 27, 2008
Publication Date: Aug 27, 2008
Publication Time: 0.47 months

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