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Tree species habitat suitability

The PESETA II analysis includes a pilot study examining the effects of climate change on the distribution of forest tree species. For this purpose, possible effects on the distribution of Abies Alba (a tree species widely distributed across Europe) were investigated.


The Habitat Suitability assessment was undertaken by the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability. It employs the Relative Distance Similarity-Maximum Habitat Suitability method (RDS-MHS). This involves producing bio-climatic projections at high geographical resolution (1 km2) for the period 2069-2099 and identifying the relative similarity (or difference) between observed and projected conditions.

Main results and findings

The future scenarios predict that in large areas of Europe, geo-climatic patterns could shift far from any pattern that is currently observed in Europe. In terms of Habitat Suitability, the most salient finding is a shift towards northern latitudes and higher elevation for Abies Alba in the 2080s (Reference scenario) compared to the current climate, with new suitable areas including Scandinavia, Poland and parts of the UK and Ireland (see Figure below).

Abies alba observed presence (A) and areas of high habitat suitability (>= 0.75) under current climate (B) and future scenarios A1B: KRE, MHH and DHE models (C, D and E) and E1: ME4 model (F). Source: JRC - EFDAC in the framework of JRC PESETA-II project

At EU-wide level, the Habitat Suitability index for Abies Alba is expected to increase by around 5% in both the Reference and 2°C scenarios by the 2080s. In each case, suitability is estimated to increase in Northern Europe, fall in Southern Europe, and remain broadly unchanged in central Europe. This analysis should not be considered a prediction of the actual Abies Alba spread since it does not take account factors such as the speed of the species's natural dispersion, competition for land use and the nature of interaction with other species


De Rigo D, Caudullo G, Barredo JI, San Miguel J (2013a).
Modelling impacts of anthropogenic climate change on habitat suitability of European forest tree species: the case of Abies alba (in preparation).
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