A key finding from their analysis: keeping habitats connected, so that species can move in response to environmental change, is crucial to ecosystem resilience.
…Previous theories of biodiversity explain how the number or diversity of species may change, but few have asked how the ‘wiring’ of the ecological webs will change in the future. “A unified understanding of biodiversity conservation requires knowing how the structure of ecological networks will be reshaped by global change both in space and time, and this is what is different about our work“…
….By creating a computer model of ecological networks and simulating environmental shifts, the researchers discovered that allowing species to move in response to environmental change not only prevented extinctions, but it allowed the complex networks, such as food webs, to maintain their structure into the future. “Our results suggest the degree to which future ecosystems will resemble those we see today will depend on whether species are able to easily move across human dominated landscapes,” says Thompson, now a postdoctoral fellow at UBC who worked on the study as a PhD student in Gonzalez’s lab at McGill.
…they found that in comparison to the more affluent, developed world, biodiversity is a higher priority in poorer areas such as the African nations, which contribute more to conservation than any other region….
…the findings show that poorer countries tend to take a more active approach to biodiversity protection than richer nations. Ninety per cent of countries in North and Central America and 70 per cent of countries in Africa were classified as major or above-average in their mega-fauna conservation efforts.
Standardised Megafauna Conservation Index scores for the 20 top performing countries.
…Firstly, [countries] can ‘re-wild’ their landscapes by reintroducing mega-fauna and/or by allowing the distribution of such species to increase. They can also set aside more land as strictly protected areas. And they can invest more in conservation, either at home or abroad.”
From Abstract: …we developed a Megafauna Conservation Index (MCI) that assesses the spatial, ecological and financial contributions of 152 nations towards conservation of the world’s terrestrial megafauna. We chose megafauna because they are particularly valuable in economic, ecological and societal terms, and are challenging and expensive to conserve. We categorised these 152 countries as being above- or below-average performers based on whether their contribution to megafauna conservation was higher or lower than the global mean; ‘major’ performers or underperformers were those whose contribution exceeded 1 SD over or under the mean, respectively…. Our analysis points to three approaches that countries could adopt to improve their contribution to global megafauna conservation, depending on their circumstances: (1) upgrading or expanding their domestic protected area networks, with a particular emphasis on conserving large carnivore and herbivore habitat, (2) increase funding for conservation at home or abroad, or (3) ‘rewilding’ their landscapes. Once revised and perfected, we recommend publishing regular conservation rankings in the popular media to recognise major-performers, foster healthy pride and competition among nations, and identify ways for governments to improve their performance.
Grasslands that feature diverse plant species have more carbon storage capacity than less-diverse grasslands, largely because the former produce more biomass, the researchers say. They found that increasing the number of plant species from one to 10 had twice the value of increasing from one to two species, from the standpoint of carbon storage capacity.
And the ability to measure the economic value of biodiversity for enhancing carbon storage could help in making decisions about land management, the paper published in the journal Science Advances concludes….
Bruce A. Hungate, Edward B. Barbier, Amy W. Ando, Samuel P. Marks, Peter B. Reich, Natasja van Gestel, David Tilman, Johannes M. H. Knops, David U. Hooper, Bradley J. Butterfield, Bradley J. Cardinale. The economic value of grassland species for carbon storage. Science Advances, 2017; 3 (4): e1601880 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601880
Global warming is reshuffling the ranges of animals and plants around the world with profound consequences for humanity, according to a major new analysis. Rising temperatures on land and sea are increasingly forcing species to migrate to cooler climes, pushing disease-carrying insects into new areas, moving the pests that attack crops and shifting the pollinators that fertilise many of them, an international team of scientists has said.
They warn that some movements will damage important industries, such as forestry and tourism, and that tensions are emerging between nations over shifting natural resources, such as fish stocks. The mass migration of species now underway around the planet can also amplify climate change as, for example, darker vegetation grows to replace sun-reflecting snow fields in the Arctic.
“Human survival, for urban and rural communities, depends on other life on Earth,” the experts write in their analysis published in the journal Science. “Climate change is impelling a universal redistribution of life on Earth.”…
As the global climate changes, human well-being, ecosystem function, and even climate itself are increasingly affected by the shifting geography of life.
Climate-driven changes in species distributions, or range shifts, affect human well-being both directly (for example, through emerging diseases and changes in food supply) and indirectly (by degrading ecosystem health). Some range shifts even create feedbacks (positive or negative) on the climate system, altering the pace of climate change.
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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