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Fine-scale variation in projected climate change presents opportunities for biodiversity conservation in Europe

Hlásny, T., Mokroš, M., Dobor, L., Merganičová, K. and Lukac, M. ORCID: (2021) Fine-scale variation in projected climate change presents opportunities for biodiversity conservation in Europe. Scientific Reports, 11. 17242. ISSN 2045-2322

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-96717-6


Climate change is a major threat to global biodiversity, although projected changes show remarkable geographical and temporal variability. Understanding this variability allows for the identification of regions where the present-day conservation objectives may be at risk or where opportunities for biodiversity conservation emerge. We use a multi-model ensemble of regional climate models to identify areas with significantly high and low climate stability persistent throughout the 21st century in Europe. We then confront our predictions with the land coverage of three prominent biodiversity conservation initiatives at two scales. The continental-scale assessment shows that areas with the least stable future climate in Europe are likely to occur at low and high latitudes, with the Iberian Peninsula and the Boreal zones identified as prominent areas of low climatic stability. A follow-up regional scale investigation shows that robust climatic refugia exist even within the highly exposed southern and northern macro-regions. About 23-31 % of assessed biodiversity conservation sites in Europe coincide with areas of high future climate stability, we contend that these sites should be prioritised in the formulation of future conservation priorities as the stability of future climate is one of the key factors determining their conservation prospects. Although such focus on climate refugia cannot halt the ongoing biodiversity loss, along with measures such as resilience-based stewardship, it may improve the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation under climate change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:110773
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group


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