Assessing effects of forecasted climate change on the diversity and distribution of European higher plants for 2050


Correspondence:Michel Bakkenes, fax + 31 30 274 44 19, e-mail


The rapidly increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases may lead to significant changes in regional and seasonal climate patterns. Such changes can strongly influence the diversity and distribution of species and, therefore, affect ecosystems and biodiversity. To assess these changes we developed a model, called euromove. The model uses climate data from 1990 to 2050 as compiled from the image 2 model, and determines climate envelopes for about 1400 plant species by multiple logistic regression analysis. The climate envelopes were applied to the projected climate to obtain predictions about plant diversity and distributions by 2050. For each European grid cell, euromove calculates which species would still occur in forecasted future climate conditions and which not. The results show major changes in biodiversity by 2050. On average, 32% of the European plant species that were present in a cell in 1990 would disappear from that cell. The area, in which 32% or more of the 1990 species will disappear, takes up 44% of the modelled European area. Individual responses of the plant species to the forecasted climate change were diverse. In reviewing possible future trends, we found that plant species, in general, would find their current climate envelopes further northeast by 2050, shifting ranges that were comparable with those ranges in other studies.