Predicting the suitable habitat distribution of berry plants under climate change

Casey W. Hamilton, Erica A.H. Smithwick, Katie V. Spellman, Andrew P. Baltensperger, Blaine T. Spellman, Guangqing Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Climate change is altering suitable habitat distributions of many species at high latitudes. Fleshy fruit-producing plants (hereafter, “berry plants”) are important in arctic food webs and as subsistence resources for human communities, but their response to a warming and increasingly variable climate at a landscape scale has not yet been examined. Objectives: We aimed to identify environmental determinants of berry plant distribution and predict how climate change might shift these distributions. Methods: We used species distribution models to identify characteristics and predict the distribution of suitable habitat under current (2006–2013) and future climate conditions (2081–2100; representative concentration pathways 4.5, 6.0, & 8.5) for five berry plant species: Vaccinium uliginosum L., Empetrum nigrum L., Rubus chamaemorus L., Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., and Viburnum edule (Michx.) Raf. Results: Elevation, soil characteristics, and January and July temperatures were important drivers of habitat distributions. Future suitable habitat predictions showed net declines in suitable habitat area for all species modeled under almost all future climate scenarios tested. Conclusions: Our work contributes to understanding potential geographic shifts in suitable berry plant habitat with climate change at a landscape scale. Shifting and retracting distributions may alter where communities can harvest, suggesting that access to these resources may become restricted in the future. Our prediction maps may help inform climate adaptation planning as communities anticipate shifting access to harvesting locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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