Modelling distribution in European stream macroinvertebrates under future climates

Cover of Global Change Biology


Climate change is predicted to have profound effects on freshwater organisms due to rising temperatures and altered precipitation regimes. Using an ensemble of bioclimatic envelope models (BEMs), we modelled the climatic suitability of 191 stream macroinvertebrate species from 12 orders across Europe under two climate change scenarios for 2080 on a spatial resolution of 5 arc minutes. Analyses included assessments of relative changes in species’ climatically suitable areas as well as their potential shifts in latitude and longitude with respect to species’ thermal preferences. Climate‐change effects were also analysed regarding species’ ecological and biological groupings, namely (1) endemicity and (2) rarity within European ecoregions, (3) life cycle, (4) stream zonation preference and (5) current preference. The BEMs projected that suitable climate conditions would persist in Europe in the year 2080 for nearly 99% of the modelled species regardless of the climate scenario. Nevertheless, a decrease in the amount of climatically suitable areas was projected for 57–59% of the species. Depending on the scenario, losses could be of 38–44% on average. The suitable areas for species were projected to shift, on average, 4.7–6.6° north and 3.9–5.4° east. Cold‐adapted species were projected to lose climatically suitable areas, while gains were expected for warm‐adapted species. When projections were analysed for different species groupings, only endemics stood out as a particular group. That is, endemics were projected to lose significantly larger amounts of suitable climatic areas than nonendemic species. Despite the uncertainties involved in modelling exercises such as this, the extent of projected distributional changes reveals further the vulnerability of freshwater organisms to climate change and implies a need to understand the consequences for ecological function and biodiversity conservation.

Global Change Biology (19), 3, 752-62,