The objective is to provide an overview of endemism and endemic biota in Western Europe as a basis to implementing efficient conservation policies of European biodiversity.
Scientific institutions involved in the project will identify high endemism areas (HEA) from a large array of endemic-rich groups of plants and arthropods. The main patterns of endemism will be defined, and the paleogeographical scenarios likely to be at their origin will be explored; paleoclimatology of E. Pyrenees and cladistic/biogeographical analyses of endemic-rich lines (Androsace) will be investigated in details in this respect.
The understanding of factors preventing endemic taxa from expanding their distribution is also part of the project. Two situations will be analyzed in relevant arthropod models : parapatric distributions with hybrid zones, and non-parapatric distributions. Distribution limits will be drawn at a microgeographical scale, pointing departures from expected congruence between habitat structure and species distribution. As a possible explanation of the observed patterns, the genetic structure of these biota will be explored by RFLP and cytogenetic methods. Endemic distributions in a coevolution context will be studied in plant/insect assemblages.
From these fundamental studies, the response of endemic biota to ecosystem changes will be investigated. The impact of massive reforestation will be studied in HEA of Algarve (Eucalyptus plantations) and compared with data from low endemicity areas of Europe. Effects of global climatic warming as a major disturbance of European ecosystems will be studied in permanent snow-field habitats which are vanishing. This biological loss will be evaluated from sites of alps, Pyrenees and Picos de Europa. The related problem of endemic biota vulnerability will be approached by testing the effect of different physico-chemical stress on endemic versus expansive species (monobella, oritoniscus).
Recommendations will be made to preserve or restore the biological richness of European HEA and the adequacy of the protected areas of Europe regarding HEA will be evaluated.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts