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A framework for climate change adaptation indicators for the natural environment

Pearce-Higgins, J.W.; Antão, L.H.; Bates, R.E.; Bowgen, K.M.; Bradshaw, C.D.; Duffield, S.J.; Ffoulkes, C.; Franco, A.M.A.; Geschke, J.; Gregory, R.D.; Harley, M.J.; Hodgson, J.A.; Jenkins, R.L.M.; Kapos, V.; Maltby, K.M.; Watts, O.; Willis, S.G.; Morecroft, M.D.

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J.W. Pearce-Higgins

L.H. Antão

R.E. Bates

K.M. Bowgen

C.D. Bradshaw

S.J. Duffield

C. Ffoulkes

A.M.A. Franco

J. Geschke

R.D. Gregory

M.J. Harley

J.A. Hodgson

R.L.M. Jenkins

V. Kapos

K.M. Maltby

O. Watts

M.D. Morecroft


Impacts of climate change on natural and human systems will become increasingly severe as the magnitude of climate change increases. Climate change adaptation interventions to address current and projected impacts are thus paramount. Yet, evidence on their effectiveness remains limited, highlighting the need for appropriate ecological indicators to measure progress of climate change adaptation for the natural environment. We outline conceptual, analytical, and practical challenges in developing such indicators, before proposing a framework with three process-based and two results-based indicator types to track progress in adapting to climate change. We emphasize the importance of dynamic assessment and modification over time, as new adaptation targets are set and/or as intervention actions are monitored and evaluated. Our framework and proposed indicators are flexible and widely applicable across species, habitats, and monitoring programmes, and could be accommodated within existing national or international frameworks to enable the evaluation of both large-scale policy instruments and local management interventions. We conclude by suggesting further work required to develop these indicators fully, and hope this will stimulate the use of ecological indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of policy interventions for the adaptation of the natural environment across the globe.


Pearce-Higgins, J., Antão, L., Bates, R., Bowgen, K., Bradshaw, C., Duffield, S., …Morecroft, M. (2022). A framework for climate change adaptation indicators for the natural environment. Ecological Indicators, 136, Article 108690.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 13, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 24, 2022
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date May 26, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2022
Journal Ecological Indicators
Print ISSN 1470-160X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 136
Article Number 108690


Published Journal Article (724 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This article is available under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND license and permits non-commercial use of the work as published, without adaptation or alteration provided the work is fully attributed.

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