Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: May 2011

16 - Assessing the effectiveness of a protected area network in the face of climatic change

from Section 4 - Conservation



Climatic change is expected to result in changes in species' distributions. However, current networks of protected areas, designed to conserve biodiversity, have been designated and designed on the basis of a paradigm of long-term stability of species' geographical distributions. As a result, these networks may not be effective in conserving biodiversity in a world with rapidly changing climatic conditions. We investigate this using as a model system the 1679 bird species breeding in sub-Saharan Africa and the network of 803 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) designated in the region by Bird Life International. Using climatic envelope models fitted to species' present distributions and the current climate, species' present and potential future occurrences in IBAs were simulated. The results show that the current network has the potential to maintain most species throughout the present century. However, they also indicate that this outcome depends upon substantial potential species turnover in many IBAs. This is only likely if the connectivity of the current network is enhanced substantially in key areas, and will also depend upon sympathetic management of the wider landscape, so as to enhance its permeability, and appropriate management of individual sites, taking into account their role in the overall network.


It is now generally accepted that anthropogenic activities have resulted in global climatic changes over the past century (Trenberth et al.,2007); they may even have done so over several millennia (Ruddiman, 2003).

Allen, J. R. M., Long, A. J., Ottley, C. J., Pearson, D. G. and Huntley, B. (2007). Holocene climate variability in northernmost Europe. Quaternary Science Reviews, 26, 1432–1453.
Allouche, O., Tsoar, A. and Kadmon, R. (2006). Assessing the accuracy of species distribution models: prevalence, kappa and the true skill statistic (TSS). Journal of Applied Ecology, 43, 1223–1232.
Araújo, M. B., Cabeza, M., Thuiller, W., Hannah, L. and Williams, P. H. (2004). Would climate change drive species out of reserves? An assessment of existing reserve-selection methods. Global Change Biology, 10, 1618–1626.
Barnard, P. and Thuiller, W. (2008). Global change and biodiversity: future challenges. Biology Letters, 4, 553–555.
Beale, C. M., Lennon, J. J. and Gimona, A. (2008). Opening the climate envelope reveals no macroscale associations with climate in European birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 105, 14908–14912.
Beerling, D. J., Huntley, B. and Bailey, J. P. (1995). Climate and the distribution of Fallopia japonica: use of an introduced species to test the predictive capacity of response surfaces. Journal of Vegetation Science, 6, 269–282.
International, BirdLife (2000). Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Brooks, T., Balmford, A., Burgess, N. et al. (2001). Toward a blueprint for conservation in Africa. BioScience, 51, 613–624.
Burgess, N. D., Fjeldså, J. and Rahbek, C. (1998). Mapping the distributions of Afrotropical vertebrate groups. Species, 30, 16–17.
Cleveland, W. S. and Devlin, S. J. (1988). Locally weighted regression: an approach to regression analysis by local fitting. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 83, 596–610.
Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurements, 20, 37–46.
Cubasch, U., Meehl, G. A., Boer, G. J. et al. (2001). Projections of future climate change. In Climate Change 2001: the Scientific Basis, ed. Houghton, J. T., Ding, Y., Griggs, D. J. et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 525–582.
Davis, A. J., Jenkinson, L. S., Lawton, J. H., Shorrocks, B. and Wood, S. (1998). Making mistakes when predicting shifts in species range in response to global warming. Nature, 391, 783–786.
Doswald, N., Willis, S. G., Collingham, Y. C. et al. (2009). Potential impacts of climatic change on the breeding and non-breeding ranges and migration distance of European Sylvia warblers. Journal of Biogeography, 36, 1194–1208.
,Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) (1998). ArcInfo, version 7.2.1. Redlands, CA: ESRI.
,European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) Community Members (2004). Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core. Nature, 429, 623–628.
Fielding, A. H. and Bell, J. F. (1997). A review of methods for the assessment of prediction errors in conservation presence/absence models. Environmental Conservation, 24, 38–49.
Fishpool, L. D. C. and Evans, M. I. (2001). Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation. Barcelona: BirdLife International and Lynx Edicions.
Fronval, T. and Jansen, E. (1997). Eemian and early Weichselian (140–60 ka) paleoceanography and paleoclimate in the Nordic seas with comparisons to Holocene conditions. Paleoceanography, 12, 443–462.
Gaston, K. J. (2003). The Structure and Dynamics of Geographic Ranges. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gordon, C., Cooper, C., Senior, C. A. et al. (2000). The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Climate Dynamics, 16, 147–168.
Green, R. E., Collingham, Y. C., Willis, S. G. et al. (2008). Performance of climate envelope models in retrodicting recent changes in bird population size from observed climatic change. Biology Letters, 4, 599–602.
,Greenland Ice-core Project (GRIP) Members (1993). Climate instability during the last interglacial period recorded in the GRIP ice core. Nature, 364, 203–207.
Gregory, R. D., Willis, S. G., Jiguet, F. et al. (2009). An indicator of the impact of climatic change on European bird populations. PLoS ONE, 4, e4678.
Hannah, L. (2008). Protected areas and climate change. In Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology 2008, ed. Ostfeld, R. S. and Schlesinger, W. H.. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 201–212.
Hannah, L., Midgley, G., Andelman, S. et al. (2007). Protected area needs in a changing climate. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 5, 131–138.
Hijmans, R. J. and Graham, C. H. (2006). The ability of climate envelope models to predict the effect of climate change on species distributions. Global Change Biology, 12, 2272–2281.
Hijmans, R. J., Cameron, S. E., Parra, J. L., Jones, P. G. and Jarvis, A. (2005). Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology, 25, 1965–1978.
Hole, D. G., Willis, S. G., Pain, D. J. et al. (2009). Projected impacts of climate change on a continent-wide protected area network. Ecology Letters, 12, 420–431.
Hole, D. G., Huntley, B., Arinaitwe, J. et al. (in press). Towards a management framework for key biodiversity networks in the face of climatic change. Conservation Biology.
Hopkins, J. J., Allison, H. M., Walmsley, C. A., Gaywood, M. and Thurgate, G. (2007). Conserving Biodiversity in a Changing Climate: Guidance on Building Capacity to Adapt. London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Huntley, B. (2007). Climatic Change and the Conservation of European Biodiversity: Towards the Development of Adaptation Strategies. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, Convention of the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
Huntley, B. and Webb, T. (1989). Migration: species' response to climatic variations caused by changes in the earth's orbit. Journal of Biogeography, 16, 5–19.
Huntley, B., Bartlein, P. J. and Prentice, I. C. (1989). Climatic control of the distribution and abundance of beech (Fagus L.) in Europe and North America. Journal of Biogeography, 16, 551–560.
Huntley, B., Berry, P. M., Cramer, W. P. and McDonald, A. P. (1995). Modelling present and potential future ranges of some European higher plants using climate response surfaces. Journal of Biogeography, 22, 967–1001.
Huntley, B., Collingham, Y. C., Green, R. E. et al. (2006). Potential impacts of climatic change upon geographical distributions of birds. Ibis, 148, 8–28.
Huntley, B., Green, R. E., Collingham, Y. C. and Willis, S. G. (2007). A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
Huntley, B., Collingham, Y. C., Willis, S. G. and Green, R. E. (2008). Potential impacts of climatic change on European breeding birds. PLoS ONE, 3, e1439.
Huntley, B., Barnard, P., Altwegg, R. et al. (2010). Beyond bioclimatic envelopes: dynamic species' range and abundance modelling in the context of climatic change. Ecography, 33, 621–626.
Hutchinson, M. F. (1989). A New Objective Method for Spatial Interpolation of Meteorological Variables from Irregular Networks Applied to the Estimation of Monthly Mean Solar Radiation, Temperature, Precipitation and Windrun. Technical Memo 89/5. Canberra: CSIRO Division of Water Resources.
Jansen, E., Overpeck, J., Keith, R. B. et al. (2007). Paleoclimate. In Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M. et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 433–497.
Juckes, M. N., Allen, M. R., Briffa, K. R. et al. (2007). Millennial temperature reconstruction intercomparison and evaluation. Climate of the Past, 3, 591–609.
Knutson, T. R., Delworth, T. L., Dixon, K. W. and Stouffer, R. J. (1999). Model assessment of regional surface temperature trends (1949–1997). Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 104, 30981–30996.
Leemans, R. and Cramer, W. (1991). The IIASA Database for Mean Monthly Values of Temperature, Precipitation and Cloudiness of a Global Terrestrial Grid. Laxenburg: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
Luoto, M., Virkkala, R. and Heikkinen, R. K. (2007). The role of land cover in bioclimatic models depends on spatial resolution. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 16, 34–42.
McDermott, F., Mattey, D. P. and Hawkesworth, C. (2001). Centennial-scale Holocene climate variability revealed by a high-resolution speleothem δ18O record from SW Ireland. Science, 294, 1328–1331.
Meehl, G. A., Stocker, T. F., Collins, W. D. et al. (2007). Global climate projections. In Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M. et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 747–845.
Nakicenovic, N. and Swart, R. (2000). Emissions Scenarios. Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pearson, R. G. and Dawson, T. P. (2003). Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of species: are bioclimate envelope models useful?Global Ecology and Biogeography, 12, 361–371.
Pearson, R. G., Thuiller, W., Araújo, M. B. et al. (2006). Model-based uncertainty in species range prediction. Journal of Biogeography, 33, 1704–1711.
Prentice, I. C., Cramer, W., Harrison, S. P. et al. (1992). A global biome model based on plant physiology and dominance, soil properties and climate. Journal of Biogeography, 19, 117–134.
Roeckner, E., Oberhuber, J. M., Bacher, A., Christoph, M. and Kirchner, I. (1996). ENSO variability and atmospheric response in a global coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM. Climate Dynamics, 12, 737–754.
Ruddiman, W. F. (2003). The anthropogenic greenhouse era began thousands of years ago. Climatic Change, 61, 261–293.
Sutherland, W. J. (2006). Predicting the ecological consequences of environmental change: a review of the methods. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43, 599–616.
Swets, J. A. (1988). Measuring the accuracy of diagnostic systems. Science, 240, 1285–1293.
Thomas, C. D., Cameron, A., Green, R. E. et al. (2004). Extinction risk from climate change. Nature, 427, 145–148.
Thuiller, W. (2004). Patterns and uncertainties of species' range shifts under climate change. Global Change Biology, 10, 2020–2027.
Trenberth, K. E., Jones, P. D., Ambenje, P. et al. (2007). Observations: surface and atmospheric climate change. In Climate Change 2007: the Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M. et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 235–336.