Terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems are connected via multiple biophysical and ecological processes. Identifying and quantifying links among ecosystems is necessary for the uptake of integrated conservation actions across realms.

This study reviewed information on the habitats of 2,408 species of European conservation concern and found that 30% of the species use habitats in multiple realms. The authors examined as well information on 1,567 European Union (EU) conservation projects funded over the past 25 years, to assess the adequacy of efforts toward the conservation of “multi-realm” species at a continental scale.

Transportation and service corridors, which fragment species habitats, were identified as the most important threat impacting ~70% of the species. The authors underline that less than a third of multi-realm species benefited from projects that included conservation actions across multiple realms.

It is highlighted that to achieve the EU’s conservation target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and effectively protect multi-realm species, integrated conservation efforts across realms should be reinforced by: 1) recognizing the need for integrated management at a policy level, 2) revising conservation funding priorities across realms, and 3) implementing integrated land-freshwater-sea conservation planning and management.

It is concluded that the EU has invested substantial financial resources on conservation projects for species that use multiple realms during their daily or life cycle. However, the authors state, EU conservation efforts should be reinforced and prioritized to conserve more species that need protection across realms and that are most threatened. It is suggested that to do so, recognition of the need for integrated policies across realms is needed as well as the implementation of integrated conservation planning for multi-realm species.


Giakoumi S et al. (2018) Conserving European biodiversity across realms. Conservation Letters DOI: 10.1111/conl.12586.