Indicator Specification

Species interactions

Indicator Specification
  Indicator codes: CLIM 026
Published 20 Nov 2012 Last modified 09 Feb 2021
5 min read
This page was archived on 03 Feb 2017 with reason: No more updates will be done
Projected spatial mismatches of the Portuguese Dappled White butterfly and its host plants

This indicator will be discontinued in January 2017.

This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

The impacts of climate change on single species can lead to disruptions or alterations of currently existing species interactions such as competition, herbivory, predation, parasitism, pollination and symbiosis. These interactions are affected because different species adapt their phenology (i.e. the timing of annual events) and their distributional range differently in response to climate change. Climate change can also affect disturbance regimes, such as wildfires and storms. These higher-level biodiversity impacts are of particular importance since biodiversity, besides being realised as a value in its own right, is increasingly acknowledged as providing indispensable ecosystems services for human well-being. Biodiversity can be regarded as ‘our collective life insurance’, as noted in the ‘EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’.

An improved understanding of how climate change will affect species interactions in novel communities established under a novel climate can be utilised to assess the extinction risk of species of particular conservation concern. It will also enhance our abilities to assess and mitigate potential negative effects on ecosystem functions and services. Despite increasing knowledge about effects of climate change on pairwise species interactions and on complete ecological networks, quantitative assessments of these effects are still very uncertain.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • Projected spatial mismatches of the Portuguese Dappled White butterfly and its host plants


  • Suitable area [dimensionless]

Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package ( 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 isBetter informed decision-making, which should occur throughBridging the knowledge gap andFurther developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives includePromoting action by Member States andClimate-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, 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.


No targets have been specified.

Related policy documents

  • Climate-ADAPT: Adaptation in EU policy sectors
    Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
  • Climate-ADAPT: Country profiles
    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 in the future. This web portal 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 enhances the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.


Methodology for indicator calculation

Ecological niche models (generalized linear models) for 36 European butterfly species and their larval host plants based on climate and land-use data were developed. The future distributional changes using three integrated global change scenarios for 2080 were projected. Observed and projected mismatches in potential butterfly niche space and the niche space of their hosts were first used to assess changing range limitations due to interacting species and then to investigate the importance of different ecological characteristics.

Methodology for gap filling

Not applicable

Methodology references

No methodology references available.


Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures



Methodology uncertainty

Not applicable

Data sets uncertainty

Available methods for incorporating species interactions, population dynamics and dispersal processes into models of range shifts are still very coarse, despite several recent approaches to incorporate these.

Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 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


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CLIM 026
Version id: 2

Frequency of updates

This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.


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


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