Climate Change Specialist Group

Gland, Switzerland

Climate Change Specialist Group

Gland, Switzerland

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Platts P.J.,University of York | Garcia R.A.,Copenhagen University | Garcia R.A.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | Garcia R.A.,University of Évora | And 9 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2014

Aim: Species distribution modelling (SDM) is commonly used to predict spatial patterns of biodiversity across sets of taxa with sufficient distributional records, while omitting narrow-ranging species due to statistical constraints. We investigate the implications of this dichotomy for conservation priority setting in Africa, now and in the future. Location: Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding islands). Methods: We use multivariate ordination to characterize climatic niches of 733 African amphibians, distinguishing between species eligible for large-scale correlative SDM (≥ 10 records at 1° resolution) and those omitted due to insufficient records. Species distributions are projected under current and future climates using simple niche envelopes. Empirical priorities are derived separately on the eligible and omitted sets and compared with three existing large-scale conservation schemes. Results: Of the 733 amphibian species, 400 have too few records for correlative SDM, including 92% of those threatened with extinction (VU/EN/CR). Omitted species typically occupy topographically complex areas with cooler, wetter and less seasonal climates, which are projected to experience lower rates of climatic change. Priorities derived from omitted species have greater congruence with existing conservation schemes. Under future climate, priorities for eligible species shift towards those for omitted species. Similarly, while omitted species often lose climate space at 1° resolution, persistent populations tend to coincide with existing conservation schemes. Main conclusions: Under current climate, statistical restrictions on SDM systematically downplay important sites for narrow-ranging and threatened species. This issue spans taxonomic groups and is only partially mitigated by modelling at finer scales. Effective biodiversity conservation, now and in the future, relies on our capacity to project geographic determinants of all species, and thus, a wider range of approaches is essential. We conclude, however, that future persistence among narrow- and wide-ranging species alike will be highest within sites already identified for conservation investment and that the focus on these sites ought to be maintained. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Pacifici M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Pacifici M.,Climate Change Specialist Group | Foden W.B.,Climate Change Specialist Group | Foden W.B.,University of Witwatersrand | And 38 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2015

The effects of climate change on biodiversity are increasingly well documented, and many methods have been developed to assess species' vulnerability to climatic changes, both ongoing and projected in the coming decades. To minimize global biodiversity losses, conservationists need to identify those species that are likely to be most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this Review, we summarize different currencies used for assessing species' climate change vulnerability. We describe three main approaches used to derive these currencies (correlative, mechanistic and trait-based), and their associated data requirements, spatial and temporal scales of application and modelling methods. We identify strengths and weaknesses of the approaches and highlight the sources of uncertainty inherent in each method that limit projection reliability. Finally, we provide guidance for conservation practitioners in selecting the most appropriate approach(es) for their planning needs and highlight priority areas for further assessments.


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems, according to a new University of Florida study. The paper appears today in the journal Science. "We now have evidence that, with only a ~1 degree Celsius of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt in natural systems," said study lead author Brett Scheffers, an assistant professor in the department of wildlife, ecology and conservation in UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Genes are changing, species' physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are shifting their ranges and we see clear signs of entire ecosystems under stress, all in response to changes in climate on land and in the ocean." During this research, Scheffers, a conservation ecologist, collaborated with a team of researchers from 10 countries, spread across the globe. They discovered that more than 80 percent of ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of responses to climate change. "Some people didn't expect this level of change for decades" said co-author James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia. "The impacts of climate change are being felt with no ecosystem on Earth being spared." Many of the impacts on species and ecosystems affect people, according to the authors, with consequences ranging from increased pests and disease outbreaks, unpredictable changes in fisheries, and decreasing agriculture yields. But research on these impacts also leads to hope. "Many of the responses we are observing today in nature can help us determine how to fix the mounting issues that people face under changing climate conditions," Scheffers said. "For example, by understanding the adaptive capacity in nature, we can apply these same principles to our crops, livestock and aquacultural species." "Current global climate change agreements aim to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Wendy Foden, co-author and chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Climate Change Specialist Group. "We're showing that there are already broad and serious impacts from climate change right across biological systems."


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

The Paris Agreement seeks to beat back the threat of global warming, caused mainly by the burning of coal, oil and gas (AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure) Most life on Earth is already being changed by the warming climate, even though the rise in global temperature since pre-industrial times has been rather slight, researchers warned on Thursday. The study in the journal Science found that 82 percent of key ecological processes -- including genetic diversity and migration patterns -- are being altered by global warming. These effects extend to land, oceans and freshwater environments, even though temperatures have risen just about 1.87 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) over pre-industrial times due to fossil fuel burning. "We now have evidence that, with only a about one degree C of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt," said lead study author Brett Scheffers, member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Climate Change Specialist Group and assistant professor at the University of Florida. "These range from individual genes changing, significant shifts in species' physiology and physical features such as body size, and species moving to entirely new areas." These changes will affect humans by causing disease outbreaks, inconsistent crop yields and cutting down on fishery productivity, threatening food security, experts said. The study, which analyzed 94 ecological processes as documented in peer-reviewed literature, also warned that the more ecosystems change, the less likely they may be to guard against the harshest effects of climate change. Unhealthy forests will no longer be able to sequester large amounts of carbon, for instance. Increasingly warm oceans will no longer act as a an effective buffer against temperature rise, and climate-related floods, sea-level rise and cyclones will get worse. Since people depend on healthy ecosystems for food and clean water, the more the natural environment changes, the more people's livelihoods will be at risk. "We are simply astonished at the level of change we observed, which many of us in the scientific community were not expecting for decades," said senior author James Watson from the University of Queensland and Wildlife Conservation Society, member of the IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group. "It is no longer sensible to consider this a concern for the future, and if we don't act quickly to curb emissions it is likely that every ecosystem across Earth will fundamentally change in our lifetimes."

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