Intraspecific niche models for ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) suggest potential variability in population-level response to climate change
Unique responses to climate change can occur across intraspecific levels, resulting in individualistic adaptation or movement patterns among populations within a given species. Thus, the need to model potential responses among genetically distinct populations within a species is increasingly recognized. However, predictive models of future distributions are regularly fit at the species level, often because intraspecific variation is unknown or is identified only within limited sample locations. In this study, we considered the role of intraspecific variation to shape the geographic distribution of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), an ecologically and economically important tree species inNorth America. Morphological and genetic variation across the distribution of ponderosa pine suggest the need to model intraspecific populations: the two varieties (var. ponderosa and var. scopulorum) and several haplotype groups within each variety have been shown to occupy unique climatic niches, suggesting populations have distinct evolutionary lineages adapted to different environmental conditions. We utilized a recently available, geographically widespread dataset of intraspecific variation (haplotypes) for ponderosa pine and a recently devised lineage distance modeling approach to derive additional, likely intraspecific occurrence locations. We confirmed the relative uniqueness of each haplotype-climate relationship using a niche-overlap analysis, and developed ecological niche models (ENMs) to project the distribution for two varieties and eight haplotypes under future climate forecasts. Future projections of haplotype niche distributions generally revealed greater potential range loss than predicted for the varieties. This difference may reflect intraspecific responses of distinct evolutionary lineages. However, directional trends are generally consistent across intraspecific levels, and include a loss of distributional area and an upward shift in elevation. Our results demonstrate the utility in modeling intraspecific response to changing climate and they inform management and conservation strategies, by identifying haplotypes and geographic areas that may bemost at risk, ormost secure, under projected climate change.