The Colorado Plateau supports one of the highest levels of endemism in the United States, with more than 10% of the plant species estimated to be endemic. Many endemic plants are considered rare and may be susceptible to climate change. To determine the potential impacts of climate change on the range extent on plants endemic to the Colorado Plateau, we used two future climate scenarios and the Maxent algorithm to predict present and future potential suitable habitat for 239 endemic plants. Climate scenario, biogeographic distribution, and dispersal model all influenced predicted suitable habitat extents. Both climate change scenarios predicted 104 species to have range contractions of potential suitable habitat for all future time periods and dispersal models. Plants predicted to be widespread today are predicted to continue to gain habitat when dispersal is allowed, 31 species always gain habitat with all future scenarios. Matching species with actual dispersal ability influenced results; 194 species are predicted to lose potential habitat for both climate scenarios, while only 24 are predicted to gain habitat. Many Colorado Plateau endemic plants are predicted to experience significant range reductions by the end of the century as a result of two conditions; (1) current occupied habitats will become climatically unsuitable, and (2) most Colorado Plateau endemics lack the ability to disperse to future suitable habitats. Thus, the risk of range collapse is generally high, but may be mitigated by management efforts, including managed relocation to future suitable habitats outside the dispersal abilities of these endemic plants.
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Vol. 35 • No. 3