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Keywords:

  • abundance;
  • climate change;
  • continental scale;
  • diadromous fish;
  • distribution;
  • logistic regression model;
  • range shifts

Abstract

Climate change is expected to drive species ranges towards the poles and to have a strong influence on species distributions. In this study, we focused on diadromous species that are of economical and ecological importance in the whole of Europe. We investigated the potential distribution of all diadromous fish regularly encountered in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East (28 species) under conditions predicted for twenty-first century climate change. To do so, we investigated the 1900 distribution of each species in 196 basins spread across all of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Four levels were used to semiquantitatively describe the abundance of species, that is missing, rare, common and abundant. We then selected five variables describing the prevailing climate in the basins, the physical nature of the basins and reflecting historical events known to have affected freshwater fish distribution. Logistic regressions with a four-level ordinal response variable were used to develop species-specific models. These predictive models related the observed distribution of these species in 1900 to the most explanatory combination of variables. Finally, we selected the A2 SRES scenario and the HadCM3 (Hadley Centre Coupled Model version 3) global climate model (GCM) to obtain climate variables (temperature and precipitation) at the end of this century. We used these 2100 variables in our models and obtained maps of climatically suitable and unsuitable basins, percentages of contraction or expansion for each species. Twenty-two models were successfully built, that is there were five species for which no model could be established because their distribution range was too narrow and the Acipenser sturio model failed during calibration. All the models selected temperature or/and precipitation as explanatory variables. Responses to climate change were species-specific but could be classified into three categories: little or no change in the distribution (five species), expansion of the distribution range (three species gaining suitable basins mainly northward) and contraction of the distribution (14 species losing suitable basins). Shifting ranges were in accordance with those found in other studies and underlined the high sensitivity of diadromous fish to modifications in their environment.