Article: article from journal or magazin.
Adapting global conservation strategies to climate change at the European scale: the otter as a flagship species
Climate change has created the need for new strategies in conservation planning that account for the dynamics of factors threatening endangered species. Here we assessed climate change threat to the European otter, a flagship species for freshwater ecosystems, considering how current conservation areas will perform in preserving the species in a climatically changed future. We used an ensemble forecasting approach considering six modelling techniques applied to eleven subsets of otter occurrences across Europe. We performed a pseudo-independent and an internal evaluation of predictions. Future projections of species distribution were made considering the A2 and B2 scenarios for 2080 across three climate models: CCCMA-CGCM2, CSIRO-MK2 and HCCPR HAD-CM3. The current and the predicted otter distributions were used to identify priority areas for the conservation of the species, and overlapped to existing network of protected areas. Our projections show that climate change may profoundly reshuffle the otter's potential distribution in Europe, with important differences between the two scenarios we considered. Overall, the priority areas for conservation of the otter in Europe appear to be unevenly covered by the existing network of protected areas, with the current conservation efforts being insufficient in most cases. For a better conservation, the existing protected areas should be integrated within a more general conservation and management strategy incorporating climate change projections. Due to the important role that the otter plays for freshwater habitats, our study further highlights the potential sensitivity of freshwater habitats in Europe to climate change.
Long-term conservation plan, Climate change, Freshwater ecosystem, Ensemble forecasting, Species distribution models
Web of science
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