Talk, 43. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Ökologie (GfÖ), Potsdam: 2013-09-09 - 2013-09-13
The primary objective of the European Habitats Directive is to preserve a ‘favourable’ status of selected species and habitats. In the face of climate change this may become increasingly challenging. Here, we assess the climate change sensitivity of terrestrial habitat types listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive on a European scale, using environmental envelope modelling, i.e. we apply the techniques of species distribution modelling to habitats. Furthermore, the current and projected future spatial habitat type diversity was evaluated. In addition to climatic variables, we integrated spatial information on land use and soil. We considered three time spans, three emission scenarios, and nine modelling algorithms, respectively. Habitats - or more precisely the modelled environmental suitability of the habitats - react differentially to climate change. Bogs, rocky habitats, grasslands, and some forest types are projected to lose suitable area. Of these, bogs and rocky habitats are projected to even lose under the unrealistic assumption of no restrictions in tracking suitable environmental conditions. Other habitats, in particular scrublands, are projected to gain additional area, and some habitats appear remarkably inert. Terrestrial habitat type diversity is partly shifting towards mountain regions. A decrease in habitat type diversity is projected especially for France, whereas habitat type diversity in eastern parts of the EU is projected to increase under future conditions. We conclude that modelling potential climate-driven threats to habitats can assist in detecting particularly affected areas and habitats. Adaptation strategies of the protection area networks are required, including measures at the network scale as well as pinpointed management for preserving or supporting specific habitats.