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Sci Adv. 2019 Nov 27;5(11):eaaz1455. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1455. eCollection 2019 Nov.

Climate change threatens New Guinea's biocultural heritage.

Author information

1
Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
2
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131, USA.
3
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, P.O. Box 9517, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands.
4
NLBIF-Netherlands Biodiversity Information Facility, Darwinweg 2, 2333 CR Leiden, Netherlands.
5
Betty and Gordon Moore Center, Conservation International, Arlington, VA 22202, USA.
6
Conservation International, Jl. Wosi 65, Manokwari, 98312, Indonesia.
7
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW93AE, UK.
8
Fakultas Kehutanan, Universitas Papua, Jl. Gunung Salju, Amban, Manokwari, 98314, Indonesia.
9
Badan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Provinsi Papua Barat, Jl. Brig. Jend. Mar. (Purn.) Abraham O. Atururi, Arfai, Manokwari, Papua Barat, 98315, Indonesia.
10
Institute of Biology Leiden, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9504, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands.

Abstract

New Guinea is the most biologically and linguistically diverse tropical island on Earth, yet the potential impacts of climate change on its biocultural heritage remain unknown. Analyzing 2353 endemic plant species distributions, we find that 63% of species are expected to have smaller geographic ranges by 2070. As a result, ecoregions may have an average of -70 ± 40 fewer species by 2070. Species with future geographic range contractions include 720 endemic plant species that are used by indigenous people, and we find that these will decrease in 80% of New Guinea's 1030 language areas, with losses of up to 94 species per language area. To mitigate the threats of climate change on the flora, we identify priority sites for protected area expansion that can jointly maximize biodiversity and useful plant conservation.

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