When plant species disappear due to climate change, this may lead to the subsequent loss of various animal species. Insects which depend on interactions with specific plant partners are particularly threatened. Plants, in contrast, will be less sensitive to the disappearance of their animal partners….
….[they] modeled the vulnerability of more than 700 European plant and animal species to future climate change. For the first time, they combined these models with data on interactions of plants with their animal pollinators and seed dispersers. The simulation indicates that the initial spark for extinction cascades as a result of climate change mostly originates from plant species and is indirectly transferred to animal species.
This domino effect is a particular threat to animal species that only interact with a small number of plant species, since they are more sensitive to climate change than generalists….
…“A consideration of biotic interactions between animals and plants is therefore important for predicting the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.”
Matthias Schleuning et al. Ecological networks are more sensitive to plant than to animal extinction under climate change. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 13965 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13965
Why is the diversity of animals and plants so unevenly distributed on our planet? An international research team of researchers has provided new data on this core issue of ecology. They found biodiversity to be driven by temperature….
…The study revealed that biodiversity in communities is mainly determined by temperature. The warmer it is, the greater the diversity. “The more groups of animals and plants you investigate in parallel, the greater the significance of temperature for explaining biodiversity, whereas the importance of all other variables decreases accordingly.”
The scientists believe that this is strong evidence supporting the assumption that temperature is actually more decisive for distribution patterns of overall biodiversity than productivity or size of habitats.
Marcell K. Peters et al. Predictors of elevational biodiversity gradients change from single taxa to the multi-taxa community level. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 13736 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13736
To measure biodiversity, researchers have been using various methods of remote sensing for about 30 years in addition to traditional field studies. An international team of researchers present current opportunities, developments and prospects of remote sensing in a new article, and highlight its enormous potential in assisting future biodiversity research…
Lausch et al. Linking Earth Observation and taxonomic, structural and functional biodiversity: Local to ecosystem perspectives. Ecological Indicators, 2016; 70: 317 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.06.022
Governments need to ramp-up efforts to stop biodiversity decline in light of pessimistic reports.
Time running out on global efforts to meet biodiversity targets with 2/3 still off-track.
Countries to focus on the value of biodiversity to engage other economic sectors as means of halting degradation.
Ability to achieve the SDGs (sustainable development goals) and the Paris Climate Agreement is at stake.
Cancún, 1 December 2016 – At a critical meeting opening today, the United Nations will call on decision makers from more than 190 countries to step-up efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and protect the ecosystems that support food and water security and health for billions of people.
At the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancún, Mexico, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) begin two weeks of discussions in the shadow of data and reports showing that around two-thirds of the global Aichi Biodiversity Targets are currently not on track to be met by the 2020 deadline, with serious consequences for human well-being, unless enhanced efforts are made in the last four years of the decade.
The Aichi Targets specify actions to protect and sustainably use the entire variety of life on our planet. The targets address issues ranging from the loss of natural habitats, sustainable agriculture and declining fish stocks, to access and sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources, indigenous knowledge and awareness of the values of biodiversity.
Achievement of the Aichi Targets will be critical for achieving the three other historic global agendas agreed last year, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Ahead of the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD more than 120 ministers of environment, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism will discuss the mainstreaming of biodiversity into their activities by ensuring the alignment of wider Government policies, programmes and plans consistent with the need to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.
“If we are going to save biodiversity, we need to work with these sectors that depend on biodiversity and whose activities have a considerable impact on the variety of life on our planet.” Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary said….
Fish provide protein to billions of people and are an especially critical food source in the developing world. Today marine biologists confirmed a key factor that could help them thrive through the coming decades: biodiversity. Communities with more fish species are more productive and more resilient to rising temperatures and temperature swings, according to a new study–but biodiversity made fish communities more resilient against changing climate….
Emmett Duffy, Jonathan S. Lefcheck, Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Sergio A. Navarrete, and Graham J. Edgar. Biodiversity enhances reef fish biomass and resistance to climate change. PNAS, May 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1524465113
With global temperatures rising, an international group of 22 top biologists is calling for a coordinated effort to gather important species information that is urgently needed to improve predictions for the impact of climate change on future biodiversity. Current predictions fail to account for important biological factors like species competition and movement that can have a profound influence on whether a plant or animal survives changes to its environment, the scientists say in the September 9 issue of the journal Science. While more sophisticated forecasting models exist, much of the detailed species information that is needed to improve predictions is lacking.
…The 22 top biologists affiliated with the article identify six key types of biological information, including life history, physiology, genetic variation, species interactions, and dispersal, that will significantly improve prediction outcomes for individual species. Obtaining that information will not only help the scientific community better identify the most at-risk populations and ecosystems, the scientists say, it will also allow for a more targeted distribution of resources as global temperatures continue to rise at a record rate.…With more than 8.7 million species worldwide, gathering the necessary biological information to improve predictions is a daunting task. Even a sampling of key species would be beneficial, the authors say, as the more sophisticated models will allow scientists to extrapolate their predictions and apply them to multiple species with similar traits.
The researchers are calling for the launch of a global campaign to be spearheaded by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES. The IPBES operates under the auspices of four United Nations entities and is dedicated to providing scientific information to policymakers worldwide. One thousand scientists from all over the world currently contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. The scientists are also encouraging conservation strategies to support biodiversity such as maintaining dispersal corridors, and preserving existing natural habitats and genetic diversity. “Our biggest challenge is pinpointing which species to concentrate on and which regions we need to allocate resources,” says UConn Associate Professor Urban. In an earlier study in Science, Urban predicted that as many as one in six species internationally could be wiped out by climate change. “We are at a triage stage at this point. We have limited resources and patients lined up at the door.”
· M. C. Urban, G. Bocedi, A. P. Hendry, J.- B. Mihoub, G. Peer, A. Singer, J. R. Bridle, L. G. Crozier, L. De Meester, W. Godsoe, A. Gonzalez, J. J. Hellmann, R. D. Holt, A. Huth, K. Johst, C. B. Krug, P. W. Leadley, S. C. F. Palmer, J. H. Pantel, A. Schmitz, P. A. Zollner, J. M. J. Travis. Improving the forecast for biodiversity under climate change. Science, 2016; 353 (6304): aad8466 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8466
· M. C. Urban. Accelerating extinction risk from climate change. Science, 2015; 348 (6234): 571 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa4984
“Plant trait diversity may enable the Amazon forests, the world’s greatest and maybe most fascinating tropical ecosystem, to adjust to some level of climate change — certain trees dominant today could decrease and their place will be taken by others which are better suited for the new climate conditions in the future,” says Boris Sakschewski from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), lead-author of the study to be published in Nature Climate Change. Tree survival for instance depends on what the scientists call ‘leaf economics’: their different size, thickness, longevity or density defines how well the plant can deal with higher temperatures and water scarcity. “Biodiversity shows not to be a nice-to-have but indeed a must-have,” says Sakschewski. “We find it could be functional for the long-term survival of Earth’s large reservoirs of biomass, such as the forests of the Amazon region.”
However, this depends on the level of stress. Only in a scenario of moderate climate change, high biodiversity can, after a sharp decline of biomass, contribute to substantial recovery in vast areas across the Amazon region after a few hundred years. Here, more than 80 percent of the Amazon area would show substantial regrowth, according to the study. In contrast, in a business-as-usual scenario of greenhouse-gas emissions leading to massive climate change, less than 20 percent of the area would show this positive effect. Never before have these dynamics been integrated in a biogeochemical vegetation simulation of climate effects, so this is a significant step forward in Earth system modelling….
Boris Sakschewski, Werner von Bloh, Alice Boit, Lourens Poorter, Marielos Peña-Claros, Jens Heinke, Jasmin Joshi, Kirsten Thonicke. Resilience of Amazon forests emerges from plant trait diversity. Nature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3109
Invasions from alien species such as Japanese Knotweed and grey squirrels threaten the economies and livelihoods of residents of some of the world’s poorest nations, new University of Exeter research shows.
The damage caused by non-native species like the Harlequin ladybird and mink threaten global biodiversity and cost global economies US$1.4 trillion annually. They can transmit disease, choke river systems and wells, prevent cattle being able to graze and out-compete or eat native species.
This is often seen as a “first world” problem. Experts have now shown these invasions are also threatening the last remaining biodiversity strongholds in the world’s most fragile economies. One sixth of the global land surface is highly vulnerable to invasion, including substantial areas in developing nations and areas with diverse species of birds and plants. A new study says better action is needed to protect people and the environment in areas with high levels of poverty.
Increasing globalization, especially imports of pets and plants, has have caused much of the biological invasions in the past. In the future air travel will be responsible for biological invasions of Africa and Asia. This will be exacerbated by climate change, and intensifying agriculture, which make it easier for invasive species to become established.
Rich nations are accustomed to the nuisance of invasive alien species, and are increasingly taking protective action. The study outlines how poorer economies are crucially reliant on international trade and have little power to regulate imports, so the introduction of highly dangerous species continues unchecked….”We’re rapidly shifting the ground under native species,” he said. “While species can presumably evolve to be better adapted to new conditions, we don’t know how long that could take.”
Regan Early, Bethany A. Bradley, Jeffrey S. Dukes, Joshua J. Lawler, Julian D. Olden, Dana M. Blumenthal, Patrick Gonzalez, Edwin D. Grosholz, Ines Ibañez, Luke P. Miller, Cascade J. B. Sorte, Andrew J. Tatem. Global threats from invasive alien species in the twenty-first century and national response capacities. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 12485 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS12485
… a new map of the ecological footprint of humankind shows 97 per cent of the most species-rich places on Earth have been seriously altered….”The most species-rich parts of the planet — especially including the tropical rainforests — have been hit hardest. In total, around 97 per cent of Earth’s biologically richest real estate has been seriously altered by humans,” he said. The scientists found environmental pressures are widespread, with only a few very remote areas escaping damage.
“Humans are the most voracious consumers planet Earth has ever seen. With our land-use, hunting and other exploitative activities, we are now directly impacting three-quarters of the Earth’s land surface,” said Professor Laurance… Professor Laurance said the suitability of lands for agriculture appears to be a major determinant in where ecological pressures appeared around the globe.
“The bottom line is that we need to slow rampant population growth, especially in Africa and parts of Asia, and demand that people in wealthy nations consume less,” he said.
The updated and temporally intercomparable global terrestrial human footprint maps and the data behind have been published in Nature Communications and Nature Scientific Data.
Oscar Venter, Eric W. Sanderson, Ainhoa Magrach, James R. Allan, Jutta Beher, Kendall R. Jones, Hugh P. Possingham, William F. Laurance, Peter Wood, Balázs M. Fekete, Marc A. Levy, James E. M. Watson. Sixteen years of change in the global terrestrial human footprint and implications for biodiversity conservation. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 12558 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12558
Increasing woody vegetation and reducing land use intensity could mitigate the impacts of climate change on insect biodiversity, according to new research by the University of New England, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and the University of Melbourne.
Associate Professor Nigel Andrew from UNE’s School of Environmental and Rural Sciences says he and colleagues set out to assess how adapting landscapes can improve insect biodiversity conservation with a changing climate.
“We found that having more native trees and shrubs on a farm will enhance ant biodiversity and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. If you have a lot of exotic vegetation and bare ground, then many ant species will become more vulnerable to rapid change” said A/Prof Andrew.
Researchers sampled ant biodiversity across a 270-kilometre elevation gradient, west of Armidale, in New South Wales. The sites they sampled varied in vegetation cover and land-use.
A/Prof Andrew says 210-thousand arthropods were collected and sorted into major groups, and ants (making up 63% of the collection) were identified further to species level.
“There was greater ant richness associated with greater native woody plant canopy cover, while there was lower species richness with higher cultivation, grazing intensity and exotic plants.”
A/Prof Andrew says ant diversity is critical for the environment and landholders. “Ants dominate the environment we live in so if you lose ant species you can lose ecosystem functions. Ants collect seeds, aerate the soil and predate on pests. If you change the type of ants in an environment you can change the dynamics and ecology of your landscape. Once lost, the remaining species may not be as efficient at delivering function to the environment so the ecosystem can become less resilient to change.”
Researchers are using predictive modelling to help land managers see the impact that changing grazing intensity or the type of land cover, can have on ant richness.
“If you are able to modify land practises, if you want to build in resilience to environmental change on your farm then managing and increasing native vegetation is an important component: not only will it help in the health of the landscape but it will also help them become more adaptable to a warming climate.”