Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 3341–3356

Potential Impact of Climate Change on the Northern Nemoral Forest Herb Flora of Europe


DOI: 10.1007/s10531-005-1345-8

Cite this article as:
Svenning, J. & Skov, F. Biodivers Conserv (2006) 15: 3341. doi:10.1007/s10531-005-1345-8


This study examines the potential impact on 21st century climate change on north- nemoral forest herb ranges at three spatial scales (Europe as whole, Northern/Southern Europe, separately, and the small north-nemoral region Denmark) and for two contrasting geographic regions (Northern and Southern Europe), and evaluates which species traits (climatic niche parameters, range location) would be most important for the range responses. The impact of climate change on the ranges of 36 north-nemoral forest herb species was estimated using a fuzzy bioclimatic envelope model that link atlas data to climate to predict bioclimatic suitability. Two global warming scenarios were investigated. Bioclimatic suitability was predicted to decline for all species in Europe as whole and in Southern Europe, while a minority would experience stable or increased suitability in Denmark and Northern Europe. No species were predicted to go extinct at a European scale under any scenario, although up to 14% of the species could be lost at the smallest scale. However, due to its strong impact on Southern Europe, warming would threaten the long-term survival of the nemoral flora. In particular in Northern Europe suitability increases would occur in unoccupied areas. Hence, dispersal limitation could be a particularly important constraint on species responses to climate change in this region. The best predictors of modelled large-scale sensitivity to global warming often included water balance niche descriptors and the latitudinal range centroid.


Bioclimatic envelope modellingDispersal limitationDroughtGeographic variabilityGlobal warmingRange shiftsSpatial scale

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AarhusUniversitetsparkenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife Ecology and BiodiversityNational Environmental Research Institute of DenmarkRøndeDenmark