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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Species-ecosystem relationship / Species-ecosystem relationship (CLIM 026) - Assessment published Sep 2008

Species-ecosystem relationship (CLIM 026) - Assessment published Sep 2008

Topics: ,

Update planned for November 2012

Generic metadata

Topics:

Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

Tags:
climate change | species | ecosystems
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 026
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2008, 2080
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: ..

Key messages

  • The stability of ecosystems and, therefore, the services that they provide, will become increasingly affected by climate change due to species-specific responses and, thus, the disruption of established biotic interactions.
  • The changing range of host species has major implications for range expansions of species and places additional pressures on those of conservation importance.

Current distribution range of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta)

Note: The map shows the current distribution range of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta

Data source:

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).

Downloads and more info

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

Note: Global change scenarios based on storylines developed within the EUfunded project ALARM (Settele et al., 2005, Spangenberg 2007, www.alarmproject.net).

Data source:

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). Settele, J.; Hammen, V. C.; Hulme, P. E.; Karlson, U.; Klotz, S.; Kotarac, M.; Kunin, W. E.; Marion, G.; O'Connor, M.; Petanidou, T.; Peterson, K.; Potts, S. G.; Pritchard, H.; Pysek, P.; Rounsevell, M.; Spangenberg, J.; SteffanDewenter, I.; Sykes, M. T.; Vighi, M.; Zobel, M. and Kuhn, I., 2005. ALARM: Assessing large scale risks for biodiversity with tested methods. GAIA Ecological Perspectives in Science, Humanities and Economics 14: 9672.

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Past trends

Many butterfly species are moving northward, but often with overall declines in abundance and range size (Warren et al., 2001). Biotic interactions are important factors in explaining the distributions of butterflies, because they are often host-specific. For example, many parts of Europe are climatically suitable for the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) (Figure 1) and the species may even be able to migrate quickly in response to climate change. However, an important constraint to range expansion is the presence of its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta) (Schweiger et al., in press). Likewise, the current distribution of the clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne) is explained not only by climate suitability, but also by the presence of its Corydalis host plant (Araujo and Luoto, 2007).
Climate change has also had a disruptive effect on Scottish seabird communities and their food webs. During 2004 and 2005, major population crashes have been observed. In Shetland, over 1 000 guillemot nests and 24 000 nests of the Arctic tern were almost entirely deserted, and on the nearby island of  Foula, the world's largest colony of great skuas saw only a few living chicks. The cause was a drastic reduction in the populations of sandeel, their principal food source. The disappearance of the sandeel was due, in turn, to the northward movement of cold-water plankton on which these fish feed. The plankton's range had shifted because the waters between Britain and Scandinavia had become too warm for it to survive there. Since 1984, some seabird species around Scotland have decreased by 60-70 % (CEH, 2005).

Projections

The response to climate change of the butterfly Titania fritillary (Boloria titania) and its host plant American bistort (Polygonum bistorta) is likely to lead to a reduction in range overlap and, thus, an uncertain future for this specialist butterfly. Played out on a larger scale, these trophic mismatches benefit generalists at the expense of specialists, putting additional pressures on the capacity of ecosystems to provide certain services and on species of conservation importance (McKinney and Lockwood, 1999; Reid et al., 2005; Biesmeijer et al., 2006).

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2008 2.3.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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