Research ArticleECOLOGY

Mutualistic interactions reshuffle the effects of climate change on plants across the tree of life

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Science Advances  15 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaav2539
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2539


Climatically induced local species extinctions may trigger coextinction cascades, thus driving many more species to extinction than originally predicted by species distribution models. Using seven pollination networks across Europe that include the phylogeny and life history traits of plants, we show a substantial variability across networks in climatically predicted plant extinction—and particularly the subsequent coextinction—rates, with much higher values in Mediterranean than Eurosiberian networks. While geographic location best predicts the probability of a plant species to be driven to extinction by climate change, subsequent coextinctions are best predicted by the local network of interactions. These coextinctions not only increase the total number of plant species being driven to extinction but also add a bias in the way the major taxonomic and functional groups are pruned.

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