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Predicting Shifts in the Geographical Distribution of Two Estuarine Plant Species from the Subtropical and Temperate Regions of South Africa

  • Dimitri Allastair VeldkornetEmail author
  • Anusha Rajkaran
Coastal Wetlands and Climate Change


Climate suitability maps are useful to determine changes in the distribution of species. The aim of this study was to predict the future distribution of two estuarine species (Bassia diffusa and Hibiscus tiliaceus) from two biogeographical regions under climate change. The Bioclim and Maxent modelling algorithms were used to calculate current climate suitability and were projected onto future climate data to develop climate suitability maps. The trained area under a receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) values ranged from 0.723 to 0.936 for both species under the current climatic conditions, and from 0.695 to 0.933 for future conditions. Distribution range contraction for Bassia diffusa is predicted along its eastern distribution limit (South-East coast) in South Africa, suggesting extirpation in 42 out of 62 estuaries. This may allow mangroves to expand into areas where B. diffusa will be lost. Low suitability was predicted for H. tiliaceus in warm temperate estuaries which may limit further expansion. Future climate change scenarios in this region predict that temperature will not increase above the minimum temperature tolerance of H. tiliaceus. This approach can be applied to determine the potential range shifts of other estuarine species, supporting the development of proactive strategies to reduce climate change impacts on biodiversity.


Species distribution modelling Climate change Salt marsh Coastal swamp forest Model performance Maxent Bioclim 



This study was funded by the National Research Foundation (Thuthuka Grant held by AR) and the South African Network for Coastal and Oceanic Research (SANCOR). DAV is an NRF-SANCOR postdoctoral fellow. AJ Smit (University of the Western Cape) is thanked for providing the sea-surface temperature dataset. The associate editor and reviewer are thanked for improving the quality of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

13157_2019_1218_MOESM1_ESM.docx (245 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 244 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitri Allastair Veldkornet
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anusha Rajkaran
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Conservation BiologyUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

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