Is green infrastructure an effective climate adaptation strategy for conserving biodiversity? A case study with the great crested newt

van Teeffelen, A.J.A. et al., 2015. Landscape Ecology

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Abstract

Increasing the amount of green infrastructure, defined as small-scale natural landscape elements, has been named as a climate adaptation measure for biodiversity. While green infrastructure strengthened ecological networks in some studies, it is not known whether this effect also holds under climate change, and how it compares to other landscape adaptation options. We assessed landscape adaptation options under scenarios of climate change for a dispersal-limited and climate-sensitive species: great crested newt, Triturus cristatus. A spatially-explicit modelling framework was used to simulate newt metapopulation dynamics in a case study area in the Netherlands, under alternative spatial configurations of 500 ha to-be-restored habitat. The framework incorporated weather-related effects on newt recruitment, following current and changing climate conditions. Mild climate change resulted in slightly higher metapopulation viability, while more severe climate change (i.e. more frequent mild winters and summer droughts) had detrimental effects on metapopulation viability. The modelling framework revealed interactions between climate and landscape configuration on newt viability. Restoration of ponds and terrestrial habitat may reduce the negative effects of climate change, but only when certain spatial requirements (habitat density, connectivity) as well as abiotic requirements (high ground water level) are met.

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