• Open Access

Climate change threatens European conservation areas

Authors

  • Miguel B. Araújo,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, 28006, Madrid, Spain
    2. Rui Nabeiro Biodiversity Chair, CIBIO, University of Évora, Largo dos Colegiais, 7000 Évora, Portugal
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Diogo Alagador,

    1. Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, 28006, Madrid, Spain
    2. Forest Research Centre, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Technical University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisbon, Portugal
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Mar Cabeza,

    1. Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, 28006, Madrid, Spain
    2. Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Viikinkaari 1, 00014, Finland
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  • David Nogués-Bravo,

    1. Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, 28006, Madrid, Spain
    2. Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, 2100, Denmark
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  • Wilfried Thuiller

    1. Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, UMR-CNRS 5553, Université J. Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
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E-mail: maraujo@mncn.csic.es

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 484–492

Abstract

Europe has the world’s most extensive network of conservation areas. Conservation areas are selected without taking into account the effects of climate change. How effectively would such areas conserve biodiversity under climate change? We assess the effectiveness of protected areas and the Natura 2000 network in conserving a large proportion of European plant and terrestrial vertebrate species under climate change. We found that by 2080, 58 ± 2.6% of the species would lose suitable climate in protected areas, whereas losses affected 63 ± 2.1% of the species of European concern occurring in Natura 2000 areas. Protected areas are expected to retain climatic suitability for species better than unprotected areas (< 0.001), but Natura 2000 areas retain climate suitability for species no better and sometimes less effectively than unprotected areas. The risk is high that ongoing efforts to conserve Europe’s biodiversity are jeopardized by climate change. New policies are required to avert this risk.

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