We determined the current potential distribution of Artemisia sieberi and A. aucheri, two important widespread rangeland shrub species in Iran, using bioclimatic variables with and without the addition of elevation (E) to the MaxEnt model. The impact of climate change on the habitat suitability of the Artemisia species was modeled for mid century under the projected climate change of GFDL-ESM2G (RCP2.6) model, a warmer and slightly wetter condition, and CCSM4 (RCP4.5) model, a warmer and drier condition. The results showed that annual precipitation (AP) and temperature annual range (TAR) were the most important drivers of A. aucheri distribution at a regional scale. With the addition of E to the model, we found that E and AP were the most significant factors in determining the habitat suitability of this species. The most significant factors influencing A. sieberi distribution were AP and annual mean temperature (AMT). E was not identified as the important variable influencing A. sieberi distribution when was added to the model in spite of its high correlation to AMT (|r| > 0.8), while AP was the most important, indicating that A. sieberi is less dependent on elevation than A. aucheri. A. aucheri is regarded as a high elevation species (E > 2500 m) which can be distributed in colder and wetter areas as compared to A. sieberi, a mid-elevation species (E < 2500 m). The projected climate change using both models has a much more impact on A. aucheri, potentially driving more losses and fewer gains in climatically suitable habitat of this species as compared to A. sieberi suggesting the adaptation of the later to a wider range of climatic conditions than A. aucheri. The results of the current and future distribution modeling of the Artemisia species is significant in managing susceptible habitats of these species for climate change and for habitat restoration.
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Vol. 65 • No. 1