Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Climate change effects on land use and ecosystems: A methodology for the assessment of species vulnerability

Knowledge of the vulnerability of species and habitats to climate change is critical to conservation management and policy. The climate space outputs of the SPECIES model are used to derive vulnerability indices for each modelled species for Europe and for each country represented by a case study area.

Vulnerability is defined in terms of the sensitivity and adaptive capacity of species to climate change. Sensitivity is calculated using the relationship between the current and future distribution and is a function of the amount of gained and lost climate space, the degree of overlap and the size of the future distribution (as an indicator of the future rarity of the species).

Two vulnerability indices are calculated, one which includes adaptation and is assumed to occur under the B1 and B2 SRES scenarios and one which assumes no planned adaptation consistent with the A1 and A2 SRES storylines.

For the index, which includes adaptation, it is assumed that a species can make full use of its new climate space either by autonomous adaptation (i.e. dispersal) or planned adaptation (e.g. translocations, creation of new habitats). The degree to which planned adaptation can be utilised is assumed to be a function of the extent of new climate space.

This is the first time a quantitative index of species' vulnerability has been derived. This will inform European and national conservation planning by highlighting vulnerable species, thus enabling prioritisation of species actions and identifying where conservation policy needs adjustment, in order to protect a species for the future. The indices are likely to be adopted by other research projects e.g. MONARCH.

More information on the QUILT project can be found at:

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University of Oxford
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