Title: Mediterranean habitat loss under future climate conditions: Assessing impacts on the Natura 2000 protected area network
Citation: APPLIED GEOGRAPHY vol. 75 p. 83-92
Publication Year: 2016
JRC N°: JRC102767
ISSN: 0143-6228
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0143622816302946
DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2016.08.003
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The Mediterranean basin is a global hotspot of biological diversity and the most rich biodiversity region in Europe. Nevertheless, climate-driven habitat loss is one of the most serious concerns for biodiversity conservation in this region. We assess Mediterranean habitat loss and conversion into arid habitat under scenarios of climate change and evaluate protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites, which will be affected by these changes. We mapped shifts of Mediterranean and arid domains using four bias-corrected simulations from Regional Climate Models for two emission scenarios over this century, disaggregated to a 1 km grid size. Our results indicate that by the end of the century the Euro-Mediterranean domain is projected to shift into other climatic domains by an area equivalent to 53-121% of its current size. However it is projected to lose 11-25% of its current extent, which represents an area close to the size of Greece and Portugal combined. The loss is entirely due to shifts of the arid domain. Additionally, our results indicate that the extent of the arid domain is projected to increase by 228-450% of its current size in the European region. The shrinking of the current Euro-Mediterranean domain is projected to affect 15-23% of the Mediterranean Natura 2000 sites, and the loss in these sites is projected at 13-30% of its current area. Loss is projected to occur in central and southern areas of the Iberian Peninsula, southern Italy and the island of Sicily, south-eastern Greece, Cyprus, Malta and central Turkey. Computed changes in projected climatic parameters indicate that current areas of the Euro-Mediterranean domain will be hotter and drier. Temperature increase and precipitation decrease are projected to be more marked in the summer half of the year. As early as in the 2020s annual temperature is projected to increase by 0.9—1.4 °C with respect to the present reference climate, reaching an increase of 2.2-3.6 °C by the end of the century. By this period, summer precipitation is projected to decrease by 24-46% and annual precipitation by 14-23%. We provide insight into several aspects of adaptation and management of Mediterranean protected areas. A proactive approach taking into consideration landscape connectivity and the concomitant threats triggered by climate change is a priority. Proactive adaptation and management promoting investments in Green Infrastructure and a denser network of interconnected protected areas are necessary instruments for preserving Mediterranean biodiversity from the threats of habitat loss.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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