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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Distribution of plant species

Distribution of plant species

Contents
 

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)

Justification for indicator selection

Climate change affects ecosystems in complex ways. The composition of many plant communities is changing, often to such an extent that completely new assemblages are appearing. The extinction risk is particularly large at the trailing edge (i.e. southern or lower altitudinal range margins) of a species. The ecological implications of these changes and their effects on the provision of ecosystems services are difficult to assess and quantify. However, it is clear that climate change is an important threat for long-term biodiversity conservation. It threatens the ability of meeting the EU policy target to halt biodiversity loss by 2020. The favourable status of Natura2000 sites is also in danger.

Scientific references:

Indicator definition

  • Expected average percentage of stable area of 856 plant species for two different climate scenarios

Units

  • % stable area

Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what/documentation_en.htm). This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change /* COM/2013/0216 final */ and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which should occur through Bridging the knowledge gap and Further developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include Promoting action by Member States and Climate-proofing EU action: promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.

The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.

Targets

No targets have been specified.

Related policy documents

  • Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
    Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
  • Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
    Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
  • DG CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
    Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later. This webportal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
  • EU Adaptation Strategy Package
    In April 2013 the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it will enhance the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Key policy question

How is climate change affecting the regional distribution of plants in Europe, and what are the implications for biodiversity?

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

A combination of an integrated environmental model (IMAGE) and climate envelope models for European plant species is used for several climate change scenarios to estimate changes in mean stable area of species and species turnover.

Methodology for gap filling

Not applicable

Methodology references

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Not applicable

Data sets uncertainty

Species distribution models (also known as habitat models, niche models or envelope models) suffer from a variety of limitations because species are currently not in equilibrium with climate, and because species dispersal and biotic interactions are largely ignored. Furthermore, climate change projections for Europe include climate conditions (in particular in southern Europe) for which no analogue climate was available for the model calibration. Especially the latter problem is evident for projections for southern Europe since projections of species distribution models lack information from climates south of the Mediterranean. Therefore, the uncertainty in the Mediterranean region is much higher and projected declines might result from a lack of data from climatic situations not included in the model.

Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/)

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

Hans-Martin Füssel

Ownership

European Environment Agency (EEA)

Identification

Indicator code
CLIM 022
Specification
Version id: 2
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change

Permalinks

Permalink to this version
174a96bb099f4b7893d5b57b280f03fb
Permalink to latest version
AOX43I0OG5

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 4 years in October-December (Q4)

Classification

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

Related content

Data references used

Towards a general relationship between climate change and biodiversity: an example for plant species in Europe Towards a general relationship between climate change and biodiversity: an example for plant species in Europe Climate change is one of the main factors that will affect biodiversity in the future and may even cause species extinctions. We suggest a methodology to derive a general relationship between biodiversity change and global warming. In conjunction with other pressure relationships, our relationship can help to assess the combined effect of different pressures to overall biodiversity change and indicate areas that are most at risk. We use a combination of an integrated environmental model (IMAGE) and climate envelope models for European plant species for several climate change scenarios to estimate changes in mean stable area of species and species turnover. We show that if global temperature increases, then both species turnover will increase, and mean stable area of species will decrease in all biomes. The most dramatic changes will occur in Northern Europe, where more than 35% of the species composition in 2100 will be new for that region, and in Southern Europe, where up to 25% of the species now present will have disappeared under the climatic circumstances forecasted for 2100. In Mediterranean scrubland and natural grassland/steppe systems, arctic and tundra systems species turnover is high, indicating major changes in species composition in these ecosystems. The mean stable area of species decreases mostly in Mediterranean scrubland, grassland/steppe systems and warm mixed forests.

Latest figures and vizualizations

Relevant policy documents

Geographical coverage

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