Predicting potential sites of nine drought-tolerant native plant species in urban regions
Drought and water scarcity are serious limiting factors for plant growth and can thus present an obstacle to development of the urban green areas in the cities in particular under climate change. Using native plants is a high-priority option to increase vegetation cover in areas facing global warming and water scarcity. In order to evaluate whether urban areas cover suitable habitats for nine native species in the east of Iran, species distribution models were developed and binary maps were generated. The model output indicated a relatively good performance. Most of the suitable habitats for the plant species are located in north, west and center of the study area. Cercis griffithii had the highest (46.63%) and Acantholimon erinaceum had the lowest (6.29%) proportion of suitable habitats among all studied species in the Khorasan region. Annual precipitation, annual mean temperature, and mean temperature of warmest quarter were the most important environmental variables in determining the potential geographic distribution for these species. Due to similar climate
conditions, such as low rainfall, high temperature, low relative humidity and high solar radiation particularly in the summers, our findings showed that Cercis griffithii, Iris songarica and Tamarix ramosissima can be utilized in the development of green areas in the studied regions. According to the output of the species distribution models, planting of Acantholimon erinaceum, Salvia abrotanoides and Rosa canina is not advisable in the South and Razavi Khorasan provinces.
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