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Change in species diversity as a result of climate change - outlook from EEA

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 04 Jul 2006 Published 08 Jun 2009 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
This content has been archived on 11 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
Indicator codes: Outlook 004
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Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

The objective of this indicator is to produce a high-level generic indicator that will show the state and trends of biodiversity in Europe.

The rate of climate change is likely to exceed the adaptive capacity of some wild plant species (IPCC, 2007), whilst others are expected to benefit from changing environmental conditions(Sobrino Vesperinas et al., 2001). Consequently, the composition of many plant communities is changing to the extent that completely new assemblages are appearing. In addition, there is a parallel change in plant distribution and the increased threat of extinction of species at the edge of their geographical and altitudinal ranges -- particularly poorly dispersing endemics. The ecological implications of these changes and the effects on the services that these ecosystems provide are not always clear. Together with the emergence of invasive non native species, these factors will have challenging consequences for long term biodiversity conservation (Gitay et al., 2002) and the ability of Europe to meet its target to halt biodiversity loss, not least in relation to the favourable status of Natura 2000 sites. (EEA Report / No4/2008. Impacts of Europe's changing climate -- 2008 indicator-based assessment).

The adaptive capacity of species is linked to genetic diversity and this too might change under climate change; sensitive and valuable relic populations will be particularly affected.

The northward shift in distribution of animal species has a range of potential consequences for agriculture (livestock and crops), human health, as well as forbiodiversity and its conservation (Sparks et al., 2007). The distribution of many animal species will be particularly affected by climate change if landscape fragmentation impedes their movement to more suitable climatic conditions. This will also affect the ability of Europe to meet its biodiversity target. In addition, warmer conditions, particularly warmers winters, are allowing the establishment of new pest species such as the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), American bollworm (Heliothis armigera), gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) and some migratory moths and butterflies. Health risks associated with vector-borne diseases are linked to invasions of species such as ticks and mosquitoes. (EEA Report / No4/2008. Impacts of Europe's changing climate -- 2008 indicator-based assessment).

The outlook presents plausible future for how many species will be gained or lost as a result of climate change in the EU 25. The outlook helps to identify to which extend the policy targets set in the Convention on Biological Diversity are achievable and what additional policy measures should be taken.

Scientific references

  • EEA Core set of indicators (CSI)
  • EECCA core set The core set is based on the 'UNECE Revised guidelines for the application of environmental indicators in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia'. Guidelines are developed within the framework of the "ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" PROCESS by the Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.
  • European Environmental Outlook

Indicator definition

Definition: The indicator represents number of species gained and lost as a result of climate change.

Model used: EUROMOVE

Ownership:  European Environment Agency

Temporal coverage: 2100

Geographical coverage: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, Czech republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Lichtenshtain, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Swetzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom


Number of species

Policy context and targets

Context description

There is a strong need for an indicator to show the status of biodiversity in Europe. Such an indicator should be closely linked to the following policy objectives expressed at both European and global level.

Global policy context

At the global level, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and in particular the Strategic Plan for the Convention commits the Parties to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level. This target was endorsed in 2002 by two major global environmental meetings; firstly the Ministerial Declaration at COP6 to the CBD and secondly the World Summit on Sustainable Development in its Plan of Implementation (2002).

Pan-European policy context

On the Pan-European level, the Kiev resolution on Biodiversity was adopted during the fifth ministerial conference on Environment for Europe in 2003. It reinforces the objective to halt the loss of biodiversity at all levels by the year 2010.

European level

At European level, the Council of the European Union adopted the European Strategy for Sustainable Development in 2001. One of the objectives of the Strategy was "to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010". In June 2004, the EU Environment Council welcomed the set of biodiversity indicators referred to in the "Message from Malahide" and based on the first set of indicators adopted under the Convention on biological diversity earlier that year. 

Other political instruments in Europe are also focusing on biodiversity. These include the 6th Environmental Action Programme and the European Community Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

EECCA policy context

Development and implementation of national strategies and plans concerning bidoversity is the object for the governments of EECCA region.


EU level

  • To half the loss of biodiversity by 2010

EECCA level

  • To develop national strategies concerning biodiversity

Links to other related policies

EECCA Environmental Strategy

Related policy documents

Key policy question

What are trends in biodiversity?


Methodology for indicator calculation

Calculations of the indicator are based on the Euromove model.

Overview of the Euromove model

Euromove is a species-based model using logistic regression equations to calculate occurence probabilities for almost 1400 European vascular plant species. The equations are based on six climatic variables from IMAGE (including climatic temperature data) and species data from the Atlas Flora Europaeae (AFE) (Jalas and Suominen 1989; Ascroft 1994). In the Euromove model (Bakkenes et al., 2002) a threshold probability value for each species have been determined to transform calculated probabilities into absent-present states.

The model is easy to use and makes use of all available digital information on plant species in Europe.  The indicator recognizes climate change as the major determining factor of plant distribution. The indicator gives insight in the potential loss of plant biodiversity due to climate change.

A global biodiversity assessment model: GLOBIO3

The GLOBIO3 model has been developed to assess human-induced changes in biodiversity, in the past, present and future at regional and global scales. The model is built on simple cause-effect relationships between environmental drivers and biodiversity impacts, based on state-of-the-art knowledge. The mean abundance of original species relative to their abundance in undisturbed ecosystems (MSA) is used as the indicator for biodiversity. Changes in drivers are derived from the IMAGE 2.4 model. Drivers considered are land-cover change, land-use intensity, fragmentation, climate change, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, and infrastructure development. GLOBIO3 addresses (i) the impacts of environmental drivers on MSA and their relative importance; (ii) expected trends under various future scenarios; and, (iii) the likely effects of various policy response options. GLOBIO3 has been used successfully in several integrated regional and global assessments.

Three different global-scale policy options have been evaluated, on their potential to reduce MSA loss. These options are: climate-change mitigation through expanded use of bio-energy, an increase in plantation forestry, and an increase in protected areas. We conclude that MSA loss is likely to continue during the coming decades. Plantation forestry may help to reduce the rate of loss, whereas climate-change mitigation through the extensive use of bioenergy crops will, in fact, increase this rate of loss. The protection of 20% of all large ecosystems leads to a small reduction in the rate of loss, provided that protection is effective and that currently degraded protected areas are restored.

For more information see:

Methodology for gap filling


Methodology references

No methodology references available.


Methodology uncertainty

Factors that affect biodiversity, such as land use change, habitat loss, and fragmentation are not considered. For this reason, the results may differ from the actual future distribution. It can be proposed additional modules to complete prediction on these and other aspects. The use of the model and the indicator in a policy context is therefore limited, although the methodology has potential application to predict responses of keystone species.

Data sets uncertainty

Data quality is not consistently robust across Europe, particularly in Russia, and to a lesser extent in Spain and southern Italy.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anita Pirc Velkavrh


No owners.


Indicator code
Outlook 004
Version id: 1


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DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
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