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The impacts of climate change are extremely varied, and their effects back up and amplify one another. Climate change linked effect (temperatures, rainfall, winds, rise in sea level) and human-origin change (pollution, coastal development, over-exploitation of natural resources, introduction of species) will increasingly affect both the socio-economic sectors and the natural systems.

Climate change and its effects on the marine and littoral environments are already perceptible. There is a consensus in the Mediterranean on a number of variables which already have or will have considerable effects in the short term on the littoral ecosystems. It influences the periods of reproduction and/or migration of some species, the length of the growth phase, frequency of parasite infestations and the emergence of new diseases.

It is likely that the changes forecast might modify the distribution of species and the density of the populations by displacing the habitats (e.g. migration towards the pole or higher altitudes of species which prefer a colder climate). The composition of most of the present ecosystems will probably change and there will be a greater risk of the extinction of species especially those that are already vulnerable and in particular those species with a restricted climatic distribution, those that need highly specific habitats and/or small populations which are naturally more vulnerable to modifications in their habitats.

Finally, the introduction of new exotic species could be facilitated, and this is a phenomenon whose long-term consequences are difficult to foresee.

SPA/RAC activities

Being aware of the knowledge gaps on the impacts of climate change on marine and coastal biodiversity in the Mediterranean and with reference to the recommendations of the Almeria declaration, SPA/RAC is involved in contributing to fill this gap.

In concertation and in collaboration with the bordering countries, a summary of national reviews on vulnerability and the impacts of climate change on marine and coastal biodiversity has been elaborated within the framework of the SAPBIO activities for the 2008-2009 biennium.

This participative exercise made it possible to define new activities to tackle climate change challenge and better preserve the marine and coastal biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea.


SPA/RAC created a working group on the sustainable use of biodiversity and the evaluation of direct and indirect threats due to climate change.

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