Impacts of global climate change on vegetation
Because climate change alters the spatial and temporal patterns of temperature and precipitation, climate change will cause geographical shifts in the ranges of individual species and vegetation zones, especially in regions closest to the poles and with high elevations. Climate change in combination with other factors has already shifted vegetation zones in West Africa, the South-western United States, and Spain.
Gonzales et al. (2005) have studied and mapped the ecosystems which are likely to be modified because of climate change. Results showed that the following five ecoregions are expected to experience the highest change: Flint Hills tall grasslands (North America), Western Siberian hemiboreal forests (Asia), Yukon Interior dry forests (North America), Carnavon xeric shrublands (Australia), Altai alpine meadow and tundra (Asia). In the EPPO region, Central and North-Eastern areas appear to be the most subjected to vegetation shifts due to climate change: tundra shall be replaced by temperate evergreen forest, which shall itself be replaced in Northern Central Europe by temperate mix forest. As plant communities migrate across protected area boundaries, endangered plants and animals could find themselves on unprotected lands, or in the worst case, without any remaining viable habitat, such as in polar or mountainous regions.
Gonzales P, Neilson RP, Drapek RJ (2005) Climate change vegetation shifts across global ecoregions. Ecological Society of America Annual meeting Abstracts 90:228. http://conserveonline.org/workspaces/climate.change/climate.change.vegetation.shifts/Gonzalez
The Nature Conservancy, Impacts of global climate change on vegetation. http://conserveonline.org/workspaces/climate.change/climate.change.vegetation.shifts/Nature