Transboundary ecological networks as an adaptation strategy to climate change: The example of the Dutch - German border

Rüter, S.; Vos, C.C.; Eupen, M. van; Rühmkorf, H.


Establishing ecological networks across national boundaries is essential for species to adapt to shifts in future suitable climate zones. This paper presents a method to assess whether the existing ecological network in the Dutch – German border region is “climate proof”. Using distribution data and climate envelope models for 846 species in Europe (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies) we identified 216 species with climate-induced range shifts in the border region. A range expansion is predicted for 99 species and the ranges of 117 species are predicted to contract. The spatial cohesion of the ecological network was analysed for selected species that vary in habitat requirements and colonisation ability (forest species: Brenthis daphne, Dendrocopos medius; wetland species: Maculinea teleius, Lutra lutra). The assessment shows that optimising transboundary networks and developing corridors seems a suitable adaptation strategy for the forest species and for L. lutra. For the immobile butterfly M. teleius, the present habitat network is too weak and translocation into future suitable climate space seems to be a more appropriate adaptation measure. Our results underline that due to climate change landscape planning and management should not only focus on areas where target species occur today. The presented method can identify strongholds and bottlenecks in transboundary ecological networks and incorporate demands of climate adaptation into spatial planning which forms the basis for taking measures at a more detailed level.