Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change

Date:
July 28, 2014
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
New research has identified areas of the Earth that are high priorities for conservation in the face of climate change. Europe is particularly vulnerable, as it has the lowest fraction of its land area, only four per cent, of any continent in ‘refugia’ – areas of biological diversity that support many species where natural environmental conditions remain relatively constant during times of great environmental change.

This is a map of the vulnerability of ecosystems to biome shifts due to climate change and of habitat loss due to land cover change.
Credit: University of Southampton

New research has identified areas of Earth that are high priorities for conservation in the face of climate change.

Related Articles


Europe is particularly vulnerable, as it has the lowest fraction of its land area, only four per cent, of any continent in 'refugia' -- areas of biological diversity that support many species where natural environmental conditions remain relatively constant during times of great environmental change. The refugia that do exist in Europe are mostly in Scandinavia and Scotland.

The biggest refugia are in the Amazon, the Congo basin, the boreal forests of Russia, the Artic and the Australian outback.

The study identifies such climate change refugia based on the amount of natural habitat present and the risk that regions shift to a different type of natural vegetation due to climate change -- a phenomenon known as 'biome shift'.

The research was led by University of Southampton biologist Dr Felix Eigenbrod working in collaboration with Dr Patrick Gonzalez, Climate Change Scientist at the U.S. National Park Service, and two other Southampton scientists -- Dr Jadu Dash and Dr Ilse Steyl. They found that 10 to 28 per cent of the world is located in potential refugia or areas less vulnerable to future climate change and biome shift.

In addition, only one to two per cent of the world's vegetated area, however, is classified as refugia and protected by a national park or other protected area.

The results suggest that, in regions where relatively large, intact wilderness areas remain (for example, Africa, Australia and South America), conservation of the remaining large-scale refugia is the priority. In human-dominated landscapes, (most of Europe, much of North America and Southeast Asia), focusing on finer scale refugia is a priority because large-scale wilderness refugia simply no longer exist.

Dr Felix Eigenbrod: says: "Our research will help governments to better understand where to invest resources to safeguard wild plants and animals in the face of the combined threats of habitat destruction and climate change.."

The findings, published in the journal Global Change Biology, are based on spatial and statistical analyses of historical climate data, satellite data on current vegetation, and projections of potential vegetation under climate change.

Past field research has shown that human climate change has already shifted vegetation at the biome level upslope and towards the Poles or the Equator.. A biome is the highest level of ecological system -- rainforests, woodlands, grasslands, temperate forest, alpine and tundra -- so a change in climate that can shift the location of a biome is a very substantial force. When a biome shifts, plants and wildlife that cannot cope may shift or disappear locally. When a road, town, or clear-cutting then destroys parts of the natural habitat, the ecosystem becomes even more vulnerable.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Felix Eigenbrod, Patrick Gonzalez, Jadunandan Dash, Ilse Steyl. Vulnerability of ecosystems to climate change moderated by habitat intactness. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12669

Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728080444.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2014, July 28). Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728080444.htm
University of Southampton. "Europe's habitat and wildlife is vulnerable to climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140728080444.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins