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Macroecology and Biogeography meeting

May 3rd to 6th 2023 - Universität Bayreuth

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Emerging spatial prioritization for biodiversity conservation indicated by climate change velocity

Qi Lai1, Samuel Hoffmann1, Anja Jaeschke2, Carl Beierkuhnlein3
1 Department of Biogeography, University of Bayreuth
2 Department of Biogeography, University of Bayreuth; Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt, Augsburg
3 Department of Biogeography, University of Bayreuth; Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research

P 2.26 in Poster Session Friday (14:45-15:30)

Anthropogenic climate change is challenging biodiversity conservation worldwide. Climate change metrics derived from future climate predictions help to assess the potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity.

In this study, we calculated future climate change velocities across biogeographical regions of terrestrial Europe and the Natura 2000 protected area network, the largest protected area network on Earth. We applied climate projections for the year 2070, considering two emission scenarios, six global climate models, and a fine spatial resolution. Areas with very high climate change velocity were identified as climate change hotspots, while areas with very low velocity were recognized as coldspots. We further revealed where and to what extent climate change hotspots and coldspots coincide with Natura 2000 sites.

We found that climate change velocities are projected highest in the Continental and Boreal regions, and lowest in the Mediterranean and Anatolian regions. However, the Alpine region will likely contain the largest areal proportions of climate change hotspots, while areal proportions of coldspots are projected largest in the Mediterranean region. High mountain regions such as the Alps show a high proportion of Natura 2000 sites that coincide with climate change hotspots. Both hotspots and coldspots are geographically associated with areas of topographic diversity. Low topographical diversity indicates high climate change exposure. The impact of hotspots increases with spatial isolation. Oceanic climate buffers climate change exposure in contrast to continental climate. However, continental regions of Europe tend to exhibit less spatial isolation.

We recommend conservation action in climate change hotspots and coldspots to simultaneously protect the most climate-exposed biodiversity as well as climate change refugia. Climate change hotspots and coldspots overlapping with Natura 2000 sites should be considered priority conservation sites because new protected areas are hard to realize in densely populated landscapes of Europe. This study directs European conservation management and policy toward meeting international conservation goals in a climate-smart way.

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