Euro-limpacs Deliverables

ABSTRACT - DELIVERABLE 51

Report describing specification of a model predicting changes in CORINE communities under climate change

Marginal wetlands are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Changes in precipitation and temperature will impact on flooding patterns and water table fluctuations and will therefore modify vegetation communities and other ecological factors such as nutrient availability. Space for time substitution was used to examine this at the European scale. Inference of successional dynamic stages is only possible by relying on synchronic studies of multiple sites at different stages in dynamic trajectories. Due to these scale issues Ellenberg indicator values were used to provide a homogenous system to derive environmental factors. Multivariate analytical techniques (DCA/CCA) were used to depict the general pattern of wetland distribution and therefore to predict possible climate driven changes in plant communities. In this report, palustrian standing water systems and perennial plant communities are analysed using available phytosociological data sets from across Europe. The objectives are bring out (1) the role/place of climate in the current distribution of wetland habitats in Europe in relation with other factors and (2) the possible changes in the distribution of European palustrian wetland habitats, that could be predicted following direct or indirect effects of climate change.

Data analyses showed that moisture is the main factor controlling ordination of plant communities both in meso−eutrophic and oligotrophic habitats. Other factors such as reaction, nutrient availability showed a clear distinction between meso−eutrophic and oligotrophic habitats. The widespread geographical distribution of plant species, and plant assemblages of the meso−eutrophic habitats in comparison with to the restricted distribution of most plant species and plant assemblages of oligotrophic habitats suggests that the ecological drivers, and thus sensitivity to environmental change would be significantly different. Meso−eutrophic wetland habitats with a fertility value of N>5, would not be affected by eutrophication process in relation to climate change and/or induced land−use changes. Oligotrophic habitats (fertility, N<4) would be highly sensitive to climate change at a regional scale, both in terms of temperature increase and hydrological change. These systems would also be highly affected by increasing fertility in the palustrian wetlands in relation with eutrophication processes. A temperature increase might induce a shift from temperate or Atlantic oligotrophic habitat types towards eu−Mediterranean habitat types (oligo− or meso−eutrophic). Increasing nutrient availability, as an indirect consequence of increasing temperature, might induce a shift from oligotrophic habitat types (either temperate or Mediterranean) to mesotrophic habitat types (temperate or Mediterranean), without change in hydrological functioning.

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