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Predicted impact of climate change on European bats in relation to their biogeographic patterns

Authors

  • HUGO REBELO,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
    2. CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Instituto de Ciências Agrárias de Vairão, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
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  • PEDRO TARROSO,

    1. CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Instituto de Ciências Agrárias de Vairão, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
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  • GARETH JONES

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
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Hugo Rebelo, CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Instituto de Ciências Agrárias de Vairão, R. Padre Armando Quintas, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal, tel. +351 963 187 211, e-mail: hugo_reb@sapo.pt

Abstract

There has been considerable recent interest concerning the impact of climate change on a wide range of taxa. However, little is known about how the biogeographic affinities of taxa may affect their responses to these impacts. Our main aim was to study how predicted climate change will affect the distribution of 28 European bat species grouped by their biogeographic patterns as determined by a spatial Principal Component Analysis. Using presence-only modelling techniques and climatic data (minimum temperature, average temperature, precipitation, humidity and daily temperature range) for four different climate change scenarios (IPCC scenarios ranging from the most extreme A1FI, A2, B2 to the least severe, B1), we predict the potential geographic distribution of bat species in Europe grouped according to their biogeographic patterns for the years 2020–2030, 2050–2060 and 2090–2100. Biogeographic patterns exert a great influence on a species' response to climate change. Bat species more associated with colder climates, hence northern latitudes, could be more severely affected with some extinctions predicted by the end of the century. The Mediterranean and Temperate groups seem to be more tolerant of temperature increases, however, their projections varied considerably under different climate change scenarios. Scenario A1FI was clearly the most detrimental for European bat diversity, with several extinctions and declines in occupied area predicted for several species. The B scenarios were less damaging and even predicted that some species could increase their geographical ranges. However, all models only took into account climatic envelopes whereas available habitat and species interactions will also probably play an important role in delimiting future distribution patterns. The models may therefore generate ‘best case’ predictions about future changes in the distribution of European bats.

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