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National and European perspectives on climate change sensitivity of the habitats directive characteristic plant species

TitleNational and European perspectives on climate change sensitivity of the habitats directive characteristic plant species
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsNormand S, Skov F, Svenning JC
Journal Journal for Nature Conservation
Keywordsapproche générale, changement climatique, climate, climate change, conservation, directive, Directive Habitats, distribution, Europe, habitat, Habitats Directive, impact, modelling, perspective, plant, status, vegetation

The main goal of the Habitats Directive, a key document for European conservation, is to maintain a 'favourable' conservation status of selected species and habitats. In the face of near-future climatic change this goal may become difficult to achieve. Here, we evaluate the sensitivity to climate change of 84 plant species that characterise the Danish habitat types included in the Habitats Directive. A fuzzy bioclimatic envelope model, linking European and Northwest African species' distribution data with climate, was used to predict climatically suitable areas forthese species in year 2100 under two-climate change scenarios. Climate sensitivity was evaluated at both Danish and European scales to provide an explicit European perspective on the impacts predicted for Denmark. In all 69-99% of the species were predicted to become negatively affected by climate change at either scale. Application of international Red List criteria showed that 43-55% and 17-69% would become vulnerable in Denmark and Europe, respectively. Northwest African atlas data were used to improve the ecological accuracy of the future predictions. For comparison, using only European data added 0-7% to these numbers. No species were predicted to become extinct in Europe, but 4-7% could be lost from Denmark. Some species were predicted to become positively affected in Denmark, but negatively affected in Europe. In addition to nationally endangered species, this group would be an important focus for a Danish conservation strategy. A geographically differentiated Danish conservation strategy is suggested as the eastern part of Denmark was predicted to be more negatively affected than the western part. No differences in the sensitivity of the Habitats Directive habitats were found. We conclude that the conservation strategy of the Habitats Directive needs to integrate the expected shifts in species' distributions due to climate change.

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