Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220


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Published online December 15, 2022

Journal of Ecology and Environment (2022) 46:30

Northern distribution limits and future suitable habitats of warm temperate evergreen broad-leaved tree species designated as climate-sensitive biological indicator species in South Korea

Sookyung Shin1 , Jung-Hyun Kim2 , Duhee Kang1 , Jin-Seok Kim2 , Hong Gu Kang3 , Hyun-Do Jang1 , Jongsung Lee1 , Jeong Eun Han1 and Hyun Kyung Oh1*

1Department of Biological Resources Research, National Institute of Biological Resources, Incheon 22689, Republic of Korea
2Korean Plant Diversity Institute, Gimpo 10111, Republic of Korea
3NATURING, Seoul 04797, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:Hyun Kyung Oh

Received: August 16, 2022; Revised: November 15, 2022; Accepted: November 16, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: Climate change significantly influences the geographical distribution of plant species worldwide. Selecting indicator species allows for better-informed and more effective ecosystem management in response to climate change. The Korean Peninsula is the northernmost distribution zone of warm temperate evergreen broad-leaved (WTEB) species in Northeast Asia. Considering the ecological value of these species, we evaluated the current distribution range and future suitable habitat for 13 WTEB tree species designated as climate-sensitive biological indicator species.
Results: Up-to-date and accurate WTEB species distribution maps were constructed using herbarium specimens and citizen science data from the Korea Biodiversity Observation Network. Current northern limits for several species have shifted to higher latitudes compared to previous records. For example, the northern latitude limit for Stauntonia hexaphylla is higher (37° 02’ N, Deokjeokdo archipelago) than that reported previously (36° 13’ N). The minimum temperature of the coldest month (Bio6) is the major factor influencing species distribution. Under future climate change scenarios, suitable habitats are predicted to expand toward higher latitudes inland and along the western coastal areas.
Conclusions: Our results support the suitability of WTEB trees as significant biological indicators of species’ responses to warming. The findings also suggest the need for consistent monitoring of species distribution shifts. This study provides an important baseline dataset for future monitoring and management of indicator species’ responses to changing climate conditions in South Korea.

Keywords: climate change, habitat suitability, Korean Biodiversity Observation Network, northward shift, species distribution model

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Journal of Ecology and Environment

pISSN 2287-8327 eISSN 2288-1220