Habitat associations drive species vulnerability to climate change in boreal forests

Species climate change vulnerability, their predisposition to be adversely affected, has been assessed for a limited portion of biodiversity. Our knowledge of climate change impacts is often based only on exposure, the magnitude of climatic variation in the area occupied by the species, even if species sensitivity, the species ability to tolerate climatic variations determined by traits, plays a key role in determining vulnerability. We analyse the role of species’ habitat associations, a proxy for sensitivity, in explaining vulnerability for two poorly-known but species-rich taxa in boreal forest, saproxylic beetles and fungi, using three IPCC emissions scenarios. Towards the end of the 21st century we projected an improvement in habitat quality associated with an increase of deadwood, an important resource for species, as a consequence of increased tree growth under high emissions scenarios. However, climate change will potentially reduce habitat suitability for ~9–43 % of the threatened deadwoodassociated species. This loss is likely caused by future increase in timber extraction and decomposition rates causing higher deadwood turnover, which have a strong negative effect on boreal forest biodiversity. Our results are species- and scenario-specific. Diversified forest management and restoration ensuring deadwood resources in the landscape would allow the persistence of species whose capacity of delivering important supporting ecosystem services can be undermined by climate change.