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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Climate warming has compounded plant responses to habitat conversion in northern Europe

Auffret, Alistair; Svenning, Jens-Christian


Serious concerns exist about potentially reinforcing negative effects of climate change and land conversion on biodiversity. Here, we investigate the tandem and interacting roles of climate warming and land-use change as predictors of shifts in the regional distributions of 1701 plant species in Sweden over 60 years. We show that species associated with warmer climates have increased, while grassland specialists have declined. Our results also support the hypothesis that climate warming and vegetation densification through grazing abandonment have synergistic effects on species distribution change. Local extinctions were related to high levels of warming but were reduced by grassland retention. In contrast, colonisations occurred more often in areas experiencing high levels of both climate and land-use change. Strong temperature increases were experienced by species across their ranges, indicating time lags in expected warming-related local extinctions. Our results highlight that the conservation of threatened species relies on both reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the retention and restoration of valuable habitat.

Published in

Nature Communications
2022, volume: 13, article number: 7818

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Svenning, Jens-Christian
Aarhus University

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


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