Identifying current and historical refugia for the persistence of Chilean endemic tree flora under climate change

Patricio Pliscoff (1,2,) David E. Uribe R (3)

1 Institute de Geography, Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Santiago, 6904411,

2 Departament of Ecology, Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 340, Santiago, 8331150

3 Laboratory of Conservation Biology, Departament of Ecology, Universidad de Chile, Las Palmeras 3425, Santiago, 7800003,

The particular geographical position of Chile, characterized by its long latitudinal extension, has drawn attention to a number of naturalists and scientists. The natural condition of “mainland island” with extremely arid conditions on the north and the prolonged presence of the Andes, define a unique endemic biota on the planet. In addition, Chile presents high vegetation diversity, product of environmental heterogeneity, related to a very active biogeographic history. Native Tree species reflect this particular biota, with almost 50% of endemism and a total richness of 98 species in continental Chile. This richness is distributed through 35 families and 59 genera, tree species distributions are concentrated in a narrow latitudinal band between 37-38°S degrees, main hypothesis of these patterns are found in the distribution of  ice fields during the  last glacial maximum (LGM), result in the retreatment of flora in “refugia” due to ice progress. These refugia have been supported from paleodata evidences for different taxa. Using recently developed historical, current and future climate surfaces under a species distribution modelling approach we analyze the identification and spatial characterization of refugia in the central-south area of Chile. The distribution of these refugia is evaluated under recent and future climate-change signal in order to propose new conservation areas to complement and prepare the current network of protected areas for climate-change impacts.