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Journal of Arid Land  2020, Vol. 12 Issue (6): 1031-1045    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-020-0080-z
Research article     
Mapping the current and future distributions of Onosma species endemic to Iran
Farzaneh KHAJOEI NASAB1, Ahmadreza MEHRABIAN1,*(), Hossein MOSTAFAVI2
1Department of Plant Sciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran 1983969411, Iran
2Department of Biodiversity and Ecosystems Management, Environmental Sciences Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran 1983969411, Iran
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Climate change may cause shifts in the natural range of species especially for those that are geographically restricted and/or endemic species. In this study, the spatial distribution of five endemic and threatened species belonging to the genus Onosma (including O. asperrima, O. bisotunensis, O. kotschyi, O. platyphylla, and O. straussii) was investigated under present and future climate change scenarios: RCP2.6 (RCP, representative concentration pathway; optimistic scenario) and RCP8.5 (pessimistic scenario) for the years 2050 and 2080 in Iran. Analysis was conducted using the maximum entropy (MaxEnt) model to provide a basis for the protection and conservation of these species. Seven environmental variables including aspect, depth of soil, silt content, slope, annual precipitation, minimum temperature of the coldest month, and annual temperature range were used as main predictors in this study. The model output for the potential habitat suitability of the studied species showed acceptable performance for all species (i.e., the area under the curve (AUC)>0.800). According to the models generated by MaxEnt, the potential current patterns of the species were consistent with the observed areas of distributions. The projected climate maps under optimistic and pessimistic scenarios (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively) of 2050 and 2080 resulted in reductions and expansions as well as positive range changes for all species in comparison to their current predicted distributions. Among all species, O. bisotunensis showed the most significant and highest increase under the pessimistic scenario of 2050 and 2080. Finally, the results of this study revealed that the studied plant species have shown an acute adaptability to environmental changes. The results can provide useful information to managers to apply appropriate strategies for the management and conservation of these valuable Iranian medicinal and threatened plant species in the future.

Key wordsclimate change      endemic plant      MaxEnt      species distribution modeling      RCP2.6      RCP8.5      Iran     
Received: 16 January 2020      Published: 10 November 2020
Corresponding Authors: MEHRABIAN Ahmadreza     E-mail:
About author: *Ahmadreza MEHRABIAN (E-mail:
Cite this article:

Farzaneh KHAJOEI NASAB, Ahmadreza MEHRABIAN, Hossein MOSTAFAVI. Mapping the current and future distributions of Onosma species endemic to Iran. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(6): 1031-1045.

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Fig. 1 Photographs of O. Asperrima (a), O. Platyphylla (b), O. Straussii (c), O. Kotschyi (d), and O. Bisotunensis (e) in Iran
Fig. 2 Distribution map (presence data) of O. asperrima, O. bisotunensis, O. kotschyi, O. platyphylla, and O. straussii in Iran
Source Variable Permutation importance (%)
Bioclimatic variables
BIO6 1.8 0.1 1.6 5.4 4.5
BIO7 0.3 37.7 7.0 24.2 32.5
BIO12 11.9 34.9 7.6 1.7 28.4
Topographic variables
Aspect 0.7 2.7 0.5 1.7 0.7
Slope 70.7 2.5 75.4 35.7 12.7
Edaphic variables (;
Silt content 4.2 0.9 7.5 23.1 12.0
Depth of soil 10.4 21.3 0.5 8.2 9.3
Table 1 Source of selected variables after correlation test and estimates of their permutation importance in maximum entropy (MaxEnt) modeling for the studied Onosma species
Fig. 3 Projection of potential distribution maps of O. asperrima currently and under climate change scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 in 2050 and 2080. (a), current prediction; (b), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2050; (c), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2080; (d), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2050; (e), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2080.
Fig. 4 Projection of potential distribution maps of O. kotschyi currently and under climate change scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 in 2050 and 2080. (a), current prediction; (b), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2050; (c), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2080; (d), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2050; (e), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2080.
Fig. 5 Projection of potential distribution maps of O. bisotunensis currently and under climate change scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 in 2050 and 2080. (a), current prediction; (b), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2050; (c), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2080; (d), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2050; (e), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2080.
Fig. 6 Projection of potential distribution maps of O. platyphylla currently and under climate change scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 in 2050 and 2080. (a), current prediction; (b), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2050; (c), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2080; (d), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2050; (e), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2080.
Fig. 7 Projection of potential distribution maps of O. straussii currently and under climate change scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 in 2050 and 2080. (a), current prediction; (b), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2050; (c), future prediction under RCP2.6 in 2080; (d), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2050; (e), future prediction under RCP8.5 in 2080.
Species Climate change scenario RCP2.6
2050 2080
Gain (%) Loss (%) Change (%) Gain (%) Loss (%) Change (%)
O. asperrima 42.80 9.43 33.37 38.67 11.07 27.60
O. bisotunensis 50.01 27.78 22.23 54.74 27.90 26.84
O. kotschyi 42.47 15.05 27.42 38.87 18.02 20.86
O. platyphylla 48.57 16.22 32.30 47.71 18.38 29.33
O. straussii 64.37 14.71 49.66 65.38 14.13 51.76
Table 2 Percentages of gain, loss, and change in the distributions of the studied species under climate change scenario RCP2.6 in 2050 and 2080
Species Climate change scenario RCP8.5
2050 2080
Gain (%) Loss (%) Change (%) Gain (%) Loss (%) Change (%)
O. asperrima 58.83 7.50 46.33 52.03 8.91 43.12
O. bisotunensis 73.97 23.51 50.46 164.34 9.11 155.23
O. kotschyi 51.16 11.78 39.38 49.01 13.03 35.98
O. platyphylla 46.79 17.72 29.07 45.46 22.57 23.06
O. straussii 65.17 14.52 51.20 69.65 14.58 55.07
Table 3 Percentages of gain, loss, and change in the distributions of the studied species under climate change scenario RCP 8.5 in 2050 and 2080
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