CORDIS - EU research results

The Effects Of Climate Change on the Web of Life

Project description

Climate change and species interactions

The current biodiversity crisis that affects the interactions and the distributions of species is a result of climate change. These species interactions are known as the ‘web of life’ and secure the transfer of energy and nutrients through the entire food chain, providing the basis of ecosystem services. The EU-funded ClimateWeb project intends to estimate the impact of climate change on the web of life and the ecosystem services provided by species interactions, aiming to contribute to the setting of conservation priorities. By applying innovative methods, it will estimate the climate change effects on different interaction types, the role that biogeography and the local ecological context play in forecasting the future of species, and the connection between climate change and the phylogenetic diversity of communities.


Climate change is one of the main drivers of the current biodiversity crisis and results in shifts in species distributions. As an outcome, interactions among species are also affected. Most predictions on species’ vulnerability to climate change, however, have overlooked species interactions (the ‘web of life’), despite the interdependence of species within ecosystems, and the fact that these interactions are the cornerstones of ecosystem services. In this action, I will use a novel and integrative approach to assess the effect of climate change on the web of life (ClimateWeb). Specifically, I will assess: (Q1) Will the effects of climate change be different across interaction types (mutualisms versus antagonisms) and environments (tropical versus temperate)? (Q2) Given climate projections, does current ecological context (i.e. properties of interaction networks) or geographic properties (latitude, and longitude) best predict the fate of a species and its interactions? (Q3) How will the functional and phylogenetic diversity of communities collapse in the face of climate change? This action will use several synergistic approaches to explicitly incorporate species distributions and ecological interactions. In doing so, ClimateWeb will provide a more complete picture of the effect of climate change on the web of life and the ecosystem services those interactions provide. In addition to increasing my international mobility and career development, expected ClimateWeb results include three scientific publications, outreach activities to amplify societal awareness of climate change, and management-focused products that can be used for setting conservation priorities. This high-impact research will provide a comprehensive theoretical and empirical framework, promoting holistic thinking around the ecological problems that climate change poses, and helping to ensure the long-term functioning of the web of life, as well as the ecological services it provides.


Net EU contribution
€ 191 149,44
8006 Zurich

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 191 149,44