Least concern to endangered: Applying climate change projections profoundly influences the extinction risk assessment for wild Arabica coffee - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Journal article

Least concern to endangered: Applying climate change projections profoundly influences the extinction risk assessment for wild Arabica coffee

1 February 2019

Abstract

Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) is a key crop in many tropical countries and globally provides an export value of over US$13 billion per year. Wild Arabica coffee is of fundamental importance for the global coffee sector and of direct importance within Ethiopia, as a source of harvestable income and planting stock. Published studies show that climate change is projected to have a substantial negative influence on the current suitable growing areas for indigenous Arabica in Ethiopia and South Sudan. Here we use all available future projections for the species based on multiple general circulation models (GCMs), emission scenarios, and migration scenarios, to predict changes in Extent of Occurrence (EOO), Area of Occupancy (AOO), and population numbers for wild Arabica coffee. Under climate change our results show that population numbers could reduce by 50% or more (with a few models showing over 80%) by 2088. EOO and AOO are projected to decline by around 30% in many cases. Furthermore, present-day models compared to the near future (2038), show a reduction for EOO of over 40% (with a few cases over 50%), although EOO should be treated with caution due to its sensitivity to outlying occurrences. When applying these metrics to extinction risk, we show that the determination of generation length is critical. When applying the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red list of Threatened Species (IUCN Red List) criteria, even with a very conservative generation length of 21 years, wild Arabica coffee is assessed as Threatened with extinction (placed in the Endangered category) under a broad range of climate change projections, if no interventions are made. Importantly, if we do not include climate change in our assessment, Arabica coffee is assessed as Least Concern (not threatened) when applying the IUCN Red List criteria.

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