Disentangling the effects of land-use change, climate and CO2 on projected future European habitat types

V Lehsten, M.T. Sykes, A.V. Scott, A. Tzanopoulis, A. Kallimanis, P.H. Verburg, C.J.E. Schulp, S.G. Potts, I. Vogiatzakis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aim: To project the potential European distribution of seven broad habitat categories (needle-leaved, broad-leaved, mixed and mediterranean forest, urban, grassland and cropland) in order to assess effects of land use, climate change and increase in CO<inf>2</inf> on predicted habitat changes up to the year 2050. Location: Europe. Method: We modelled the response of European vegetation to changes in land use, climate and CO<inf>2</inf> by combining the land-use model Dyna-CLUE (based on the CORINE land-cover data) and the dynamic vegetation model LPJ-GUESS. Two reforestation options were explored: maintaining the current range of tree species (EFI) or promoting naturally occurring tree species (NAT). Climate data from two general circulation models and two SRES scenarios (A2 and B1) were used. The broad habitat types were classified according to a combination of land use and the dominant plant species. Results: Our models predicted that croplands and grasslands are expected to decrease due to land-use change. Although climate change has a negative effect on needle-leaved forest, it is expected to maintain its area or even increase in the EFI reforestation option while mediterranean, broad-leaved and mixed forests are expected to increase markedly. All investigated drivers have shown some effect, but land use is the dominant contributor to broad habitat change except for needle-leaved and mixed which are mainly influenced by climate change. Main conclusions: Land use is predicted to have the greatest effect on broad habitat distribution according to our simulations. Hence in most parts of Europe mitigating actions should focus on land-use change rather than climate change. According to our simulation, the effects of the different drivers are not in general additive. In some cases they act synergistically and in some cases antagonistically. The projected habitat changes are a valuable tool for species distribution modelling and are available online.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-663
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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