Although previous studies have provided valuable insights into the vulnerability (and resilience) of North Atlantic flora and fauna to past climates, there has been no systematic attempt to identify thresholds of tolerance to past climate change for resource management and intervention. Vegetation changes (including migration) have been recognized in terrestrial and marine record throughout the region (e.g. Wohlfarth et al., 2006) and will developed in time and space as part of this proposed COST Action. Furthermore, this Action will explore the relationship between identified genetic changes, extinction and significant climate changes in the North Atlantic region. The results from WG1 will be indispensable here. As part of the COST workshops this Action will develop a North Atlantic-wide database to identify spatial and temporal changes through 60,000 to 8000 years ago, which will ultimately lead to a quantification of climate thresholds, thereby identifying climate sensitive species/genera.
In particular, this Action will bring together specialists working on individual taxa, from important microfauna to larger mammals. This Action will then integrate their existing databases with the high-resolution palaeoclimate chronologies and models being developed and integrated in the workshops. This will allow us to first standardize methods for integrating data across species and secondly assess which data are capable of comparison. This Action will then be able to compare the best data-sets of flora and fauna with the integrated palaeoclimate and model reconstructions. Such attempts to maximise these types of changes in the past, against the backdrop of abrupt climate change have shown how important such studies are (e.g. Lister and Shev 1995) but have been limited in that they have often been compared to limited palaeoclimate data (see the discussion over climate impacts on human populations in Blockley et al., 2006). Integrating these data into the framework developed in this application will give valuable insights into climate forcing on population expansion and contraction.