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The island is home to such evolutionary oddities as lemurs, a group of primates endemic to the island; brilliantly colored lizards including geckos and chameleons; tenrecs, spiny hedgehog-like creatures; and the fossa, a carnivorous animal that looks like a cross between a puma and a dog but is closely related to the mongoose. They say that their research will help prioritize conservation efforts in the last remaining natural habitats of Madagascar.

High levels of endemism related to the configuration of watershed and geologcally recent shifts in climate, says Science cover story. An island slightly larger than the state of California, Madagascar is home to a bewildering array of wildlife from dancing lemurs to absurdly colorful chameleons.

2015 2.01: Patterns of plant diversity and endemism

The transect targeted rural communities along the eastern forest corridor, surveying villages and providing local farmers with techniques for improving rice yields and putting more food on the table for their families. The hike also provided a glimpse into some of the socioeconomic and environmental issues facing the island nation, which is one of the poorest in the world. Madagascar is famous for its lemurs, a group of primates endemic to the island.

Lemur hunting persists in Madagascar, rare primates fall victim to hunger Armand stares down at the trap made from sticks and ropes in the rainforest of Masoala. We have stumbled upon a series of traps within Masoala National Park, which holds one of the most biodiverse forests on Earth. Given the incredible biological richness the Indian Ocean island, finding these traps is particularly sobering. It reminds us that no matter how much land is protected in Madagascar the only way to preserve its rare and unusual species is to ensure that conservation provides immediate and ongoing benefits for local people.

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Lemur species named after British comedian Researchers from the University of Zurich have named a newly discovered species of lemur after British comedian John Cleese in honor of his work with the primates from Madagascar. About 70 percent of its population lives below the poverty line while nearly half of its children under five years of age are malnourished.

In the past three years the country has nearly experienced a civil war and seen the agricultural based economy hit rock bottom during the political turmoil of the past presidential election. Nevertheless Madagascar may well be on its way to a brighter economic future thanks to a blockbuster animated movie, an innovative new aid program, and the capable leadership of the new president. Their findings will help sort out the evolutionary history of these animals and prioritize conservation efforts in the limited remaining natural forests of Madagascar, the most biodiverse landmass in the world.

As a result, the model is informed by data from all species, but the influence of poorly known species is properly weighted against the flora. We then compare biodiversity patterns from this hierarchical approach with Maxent projections from the best known species. To summarize the impacts of climate change on the California flora and to compare the projections with other studies, we ask four questions.

First, where will endemic species diversity be most influenced by climate change? Second, if species are permitted to move, where will they go? Third, how do we project range sizes to change? Fourth, where do we expect future refugia — locations where species at risk from climate change will persist under future climates?

To date no studies have mapped the locations of such refugia. The California Floristic Province Fig. It is ecologically and climatically delimited and its flora is both rich and well studied [34] — [36]. The six constituent floristic regions — Northwestern California, Central Western California, Southwestern California, the Great Central Valley, the Cascade Ranges, and the Sierra Nevada — encompass elevations from m below sea level to about 4, m.

The Province includes almost all of California Fig. The study area for this paper includes the entire California Floristic Province and a surrounding area of equal size in the form of an approximately km wide buffer Fig.

Center of Diversity, Endemism, and Rarity

The province includes most of California dashed line and portions of Oregon and Mexico. We include a surrounding buffer of equal area colored areas outside solid line. Colors represent elevation in meters.

B Projected present diversity. C—J Projected diversity 80 years from now modeled with increasing amounts of future climate change: C—F Plants cannot disperse. G—J Plants can disperse to all suitable areas. We created diversity maps by summing modeled species distributions as is commonly done in Gap analysis [37] and biodiversity studies [38]. First, we present Maxent projections from the species with the most distribution data. We then compare these projections with approaches that include poorly known species.

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Based on these species, we project present-day endemic diversity to peak at species per km 2 , with the highest concentrations from southern Northwest California through most of Central Western California and in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Fig. These results correspond to previous descriptions of patterns endemic diversity in the California Floristic Province [39]. Our models yield projections of future diversity under a range of climate change scenarios Fig. We contrast scenarios where species cannot move — and so their ranges can only shrink Fig. Under the highest level of climate change examined here mid-high climate sensitivity and higher emissions, as represented by HadCM3 A1FI projections , with the assumption of no dispersal, we project peak diversity to drop as low as species per km 2 Fig.

In contrast, under relatively low amounts of climate change low climate sensitivity and lower emissions, as represented by PCM B1 projections , and allowing for dispersal Fig. As expected, the worst-case scenarios come from the higher sensitivity simulations HadCM3: Fig. Similarly, projections based on the higher emissions scenario A1FI: Fig.

Dispersal greatly buffers climate impacts on total diversity, as species gains may partially or wholly offset losses at a local level Fig. Across all scenarios, the general trend is that diversity shifts towards the coast and northwards. Coastal areas, especially Northwestern California and Central Western California, are presently rich in species.


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Even under significant climate change, they will continue to be so. In contrast, the foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada are extremely vulnerable to species loss. Under scenarios that allow dispersal, the areas that straddle the California-Oregon border also become rich in species — as expected from northward dispersal. Summed range maps for all endemic species indicate that species richness peaks at species Fig. C—J Projected diversity 80 years from now modeled with increasingly increasing amounts of future climate change: C—F Plants cannot disperse.

Diversity patterns in figure 2B are similar to those in figure 2A except that the range map derived diversity is lower in Northwestern California and Southwestern California. The patterns in figure 2B differ from the Maxent projections in that diversity is lower in the Sierra Nevada and Southwestern California and higher in coastal Northwestern California.

High Sierra

Changing patterns of diversity projected from the multilevel model are very similar to the patterns of diversity projected from Maxent. In general, diversity shifts towards the coast and northwards, and the degree depends on the dispersal assumptions, emission scenarios, and the sensitivity of climate simulations. The following results on species movement and range size change are from Maxent projections of the best known species.

Changes in diversity reflect the overall consequences of local extirpation and species dispersal.


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These patterns do not address the potential fate of individual species. For that reason, we also examined individual species fate in terms of projected geographic shifts in species' mean elevation, range centroid, and percent change in range size. In high emission scenarios A1FI with dispersal, we project species range centroids to shift by an average of up to kilometers see Fig. As one might expect, species tend to move to higher elevations and often northward see Fig. Interestingly, these trends result in divergent projections for elements of the flora.

Given California's geography, movement to higher elevations often means taking a southward path. Figure 3A illustrates two representative species that presently have essentially adjacent ranges. In the future, we project their ranges to be widely separate, with one moving south to higher elevation regions of the Sierra Nevada, and the other moving north and towards the coast. Figure 3B illustrates the broader consequences, based on analysis of the centroids of the species' ranges. They are ecologically dramatic. Within the six major regions, substantial numbers of species move in diametrically opposite directions — typically north of northwest, and south of southeast.

In the Cascade Ranges and the Sierra Nevada, species at high elevations tend to move south to higher elevations.

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Those at lower elevations, like those in other regions, are a mix of species, some of which move south and others that move north. See Fig.