Assessing biodiversity vulnerability to climate change: testing different methodologies for Portuguese herpetofauna

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Jan, 2016

Cruz, M.J., Robert, E.M.R., Costa, T., Avelar, D., Rebelo, R. & Pulquério, M. (2016) Assessing biodiversity vulnerability to climate change: testing different methodologies for Portuguese herpetofauna.

Regional Environmental Change, 16(5), 1293-1304. DOI:10.1007/s10113-015-0858-2 (IF2015 2,664; Q2 Environmental Sciences)

Assessing biodiversity vulnerability to future climate change is essential for developing robust adaptation strategies. A number of vulnerability assessment methodologies have been developed, from bioclimatic envelop models to more complex approaches that also consider biological traits and population status. However, the lack of comparative studies leaves the user to choose among the different methodologies without much guidance. This study applied three vulnerability assessment approaches to the Portuguese herpetofauna: (I) impact assessment approach based on bioclimatic models; (II) integrated vulnerability assessment approach, adding the evaluation of adaptive capacity to approach I; and (III) integrated vulnerability assessment and validation based on expert consultation. Results showed disagreement between the different approaches for 19 % of the species studied. Most differences were found between approach III and the two other approaches. All approaches showed advantages and limitations, the choice of a methodology being ultimately dependent on the study goals. Approach I has proven efficient to capture general vulnerability patterns. Approach II, although presenting results similar to approach I, allows for the identification of key factors affecting the species adaptive capacity and may be useful in tailoring adaptation measures. Approach III further allows us to identify knowledge gaps and to evaluate vulnerability when data availability or quality is reduced. Further, because this approach is based on an expert workshop, it has proven a perfect means to build on the vulnerability assessment results to identify indicator species and prioritize specific adaptation options.