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WP4 - Biodiversity and climate change

Protected Areas (PAs) play a key role in conservation programs and in the sustainable use of natural resources. To allow the capture of the dynamics of spatio-temporal changes in habitats and anthropogenic pressure on PAs, methods and tools need to be put in place to regularly collect information on their species richness, the uniqueness of their habitats as well as the threats these areas are exposed to. Given the huge amount of information potentially available for doing these tasks, information systems need to be developed to ease the process of collecting, exchanging, preparing and integrating the data for reporting or for further analysis.

In contrast to regular surveys of fauna and flora that can be expensive to conduct, monitoring habitats can benefit from remote sensing techniques that can capture most of the environmental parameters that characterize habitats. Still, habitats can be difficult to monitor because there is no single model of habitat that will satisfy the specificities of each analysed species. By setting up a habitat modelling service (e-Habitat) capable of computing the Habitat Irreplaceability Index (HRI) from a selection of thematic maps defined by the end-users, some control on the information used to define these habitats can be provided. By fine tuning the definition of the habitats, end-users can either focus on habitats that are suitable for a given species only or, inversely, extend the definition of the habitat set by default to choosing broader ecological conditions. e-Habitat can be further coupled with climate change web services in order to provide end-users with means to model habitats under different climate change scenarios. The use of open standards for spatial data and of open source programming languages for the development of the core functionalities of the whole system are expected to encourage the participation of the scientific community beyond the current partnerships.

The e-Habitat model is currently developed in the context of DOPA (Digital Observatory for Protected Areas) - a biodiversity information system currently developed as a set of interoperable web services put in place by a number of international organizations active in the field of conservation. DOPA uses various datasets acquired from a wide range of biodiversity stakeholders worldwide and from remote sensing information. The current model of e-Habitat that is currently at the heart of DOPA for assessing threats to PAs suffers however from the absence of any means to capture and document the various sources of uncertainties that are associated to the habitat data. Coupled with climate change web services, the propagation of the uncertainties between habitat - climate change data and models is likely to generate impact assessments of little value.

It is the purpose of this Workpackage to use UncertWeb's uncertainty framework for e-Habitat to describe and quantify uncertainties in the habitat models as well as to document uncertainty in impact assessments of climate change when coupling e-Habitat with a climate change model service.


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The UncertWeb project has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [248488].