Species-ecosystem relationship

Indicator Specification
Indicator codes: CLIM 026
Created 11 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 28 Jun 2016, 05:51 PM
Note: new version is available!
Topics: ,
Current potential niche space of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta) Relationship between projected distribution space of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta) for 2080

Update planned for November 2012

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

Suitable climate is an important factor in determining the distribution of species and the composition and stability of ecosystems. For many animal species, a major constraint on successful colonization of new areas is the absence of ecologically-linked host plants (Schweiger et al., in press). Advancements in spring activity may result in asynchrony between food sources and breeding, causing starvation of young that emerge too early, and the disruption of predator-prey relationships. This so-called trophic mismatch has been demonstrated for various animal groups, including birds (Both et al., 2006), and in some cases is causing crashes or explosions in populations. Additionally, extreme events such as floods, drought and fire can disrupt ecosystems, preventing growth of key plant species and limiting nesting, breeding and feeding opportunities for animals.

Scientific references

  • References Araújo, M. B. and Luoto, M., 2007. The importance of biotic interactions for modelling species distributions under climate change. Global ecology and biogeography 16: 743-753. Biesmeijer, J. C.; Roberts, S. P. M.; Reemer, M.; Ohlemüller, R.; Edwards, M.; Peeters, T.; Schaffers, A. P.; Potts, S. G.; Kleukers, R.; Thomas, C. D.; Settele, J. and Kunin, W. E., 2006. Parallel declines in pollinators and insect-pollinated plants in Britain and the Netherlands. Science 313: 351-354. Both, C., Bouwhuis, S., Lessells, C. M., and Visser, M. E., 2006. Climate change and population declines in a long-distance migratory bird. Nature 441: 81-83. CEH, Morton Frederiksen, 2005. Cited in 'A warm unwelcome', by Audrey Schulman. http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2005/01/25/schulman-seabirds/ . McKinney, M. L. and Lockwood, J. L., 1999. Biotic homogenization: a few winners replacing many losers in the next mass extinction. Trends in Ecology and Evoloution 14: 450-453. Reid, W. V. et al., 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: Synthesis, and Policy Responses. Island Press, Washington, DC. Schweiger, O.; Settele, J.; Kudrna, O.; Klotz, S. and Kühn, I., 2008. Climate change can cause spatial mismatch of trophically interacting species. Ecology (in press). Warren, M. S.; Hill, J. K.; Thomas, J. A.; Asher, J.; Fox, R.; Huntley, B.; Roy, D. B.; Telfer, M. G.; Jeffcoate, S.; Harding, P.; Jeffcoate, G.; Willis, S. G.; Greatorex-Davies, J. N.; Moss, D. and Thomas, C. D., 2001. Rapid response of British butterflies to opposing forces of climate and habitat change. Nature 414: 65-69.

Indicator definition

  • Current potential niche space of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta)
  • Relationship between projected distribution space of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta) for 2080



Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Key policy question


Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty


Data sets uncertainty


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


Joint Research Centre (JRC)
European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CLIM 026
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change


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