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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change impacts on Australia's eucalypt and coral species: Comparing and sharing knowledge across disciplines

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Abstract Two of Australia's most iconic ecosystems have recently sustained heavy damage related to climatic changes: the extensive eucalypt forests from catastrophic bushfires and the Great Barrier Reef from mass coral bleaching. Despite obvious differences, eucalypt trees and reef corals share some similarities in biology and ecology, particularly in relation to climate change impacts and adaptation. Both groups are the focus of an increasing research effort to characterize and respond to climate changes and here we examine how sharing research experiences can benefit both fields. Four key areas of research are considered: (a) modeling current distributions, (b) assessing impacts of climate change on future distributions, (c) using human‐assisted migration to improve survival, and (d) applying genetic enhancement to improve the species’ survival. Examples of each research area are used to examine potential crossovers, limitations of the methods, and future requirements. We conclude that eucalypt and coral researchers, and indeed researchers for many other endangered taxa, can gain much by comparing experiences and methods, despite the apparent differences in their respective taxa. This article is categorized under: Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Observed Impacts of Climate Change
Natural distribution data for eucalypt (green dots) and reef‐coral species (blue dots) from the Atlas of Living Australia. The Great Barrier Reef coral region is shown to the northeast of Australia (pink lines)
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ALA‐generated maps can assist the climate‐adjusted provenancing process for eucalypts by identifying the most suitable locations for seed collection. The restoration site near Albury in south‐eastern Australia is shown by the blue arrow. Red spots indicate the natural distribution of Eucalyptus albens Benth (which has the common name of “White Box”). Black‐shaded areas experience warmer and drier conditions expected for the restoration site in 2030 (15–16°C and 621–694 mm mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation in comparison to 14.5°C and 730 mm for 1986–2005 conditions). The ALA allows the user to zoom in and select individual trees (red spots) as potential locations for seed collection using Google Earth™ images available within the ALA (see Booth, 2016 for more details). Occurrences in the main map are within an area approximately 750 × 750 km, while the second map covers an area about 60 × 60 km and the Google Earth™ image is for an area about 1.5 × 1.5 km
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Natural occurrences of Eucalyptus diversicolor are shown as black dots taken from the ALA. Areas identified by González‐Orozco et al. (2016) as currently climatically suitable are shown in both the light and dark gray shading, while areas only expected to be climatically suitable in 2085 are shown in the dark gray shading
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Map of observed occurrences and predicted current distribution of the coral Acropora millepora within the Great Barrier Reef produced using the Maxent model available in the Atlas of Living Australia. Red areas are the most likely areas of occurrence and blue the least likely. White dots show recorded occurrences. Records for 762 locations were available, but only about 60 white dots are visible indicating how records tend to be clustered around sampling locations. Violet dots show test occurrences excluded from model fitting. The model was fitted using GBR bathymetry (100 m DEM), sea surface salinity, sea surface temperature, and turbidity data
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