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Terrestrial Biodiversity And Climate Change

Mark A Bradford, Robert J Warren
Published 2012 · Geography

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Habitat change, invasive species, over-exploitation, pollution and climate change drive biodiversity loss. Together, these anthropogenic effects may have initiated the sixth mass extinction. Between 15-37% of terrestrial species may be lost by 2050, and the remaining species likely will shift polewards and upwards to create novel assemblages of species. Reliable prediction of which species will go extinct, where they will relocate, and with whom they will associate, can only be achieved through substantial advances in our understanding of the physical and biological world. Indeed, many models associating species with climate change use oversimplified assumptions about the factors that regulate species survival, abundance and distribution. In reality, there are many biotic (e.g. competitors, predators, mutualists) and abiotic (e.g. temperature, moisture) factors that determine a species survival at microand macro-habitat scales. Current work typically focuses on a few abiotic factors at macro-habitat scales, leaving high uncertainty in how species will respond to climate change. The best management strategy for preserving biodiversity will, therefore, be a redress of the human footprint on the biosphere. Local initiatives alone may be ineffective. For example, wildlife reserves will be unsuccessful if climate change shifts temperature and rainfall outside the targeted species optimal requirements. If so, management must address whether the target species can migrate from the wildlife reserve toward suitable habitat. As such, conservation strategies must facilitate species movement that tracks favorable climate, via corridor maintenance and/or careful translocation of species to new habitat. The latter option is contentious given that movement of species might prevent extinction but threaten native species in the introduced range.
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