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.
- 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.
- 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
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
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
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.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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