Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can Biodiversity Persist In The Face Of Climate Change?

Date:
December 14, 2009
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
Predictions made over the last decade about the impacts of climate change on biodiversity may be exaggerated, according to new research.

Studies of likely survival rates of alpine plants have highlighted the difficulty of predicting the fate of biodiversity.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Oxford

Predictions made over the last decade about the impacts of climate change on biodiversity may be exaggerated, according to a paper published in the journal Science.

Oxford University researchers, Professor Kathy Willis and Dr Shonil Bhagwat, argue that predicting the fate of biodiversity in the face of climate change is 'fraught with caveats and complexities'.

They say that several larger-scale models are failing to take into account local, more detailed variations and that models often underestimate the full capacity of plants and animals to adapt to a changing climate.

The researchers' view is that these factors 'seriously alter the model predictions'. They suggest that 'we should expect to see species turnover, migrations, and novel communities, but not necessarily the levels of extinction previously predicted'.

Their synthesis of research highlights the contradictions in previous studies about the likely survival rates of alpine plants in the Swiss Alps, European butterfly populations and the South American tropical rainforests.

'These studies highlight the level of complexity that we are faced with in trying to model and predict the possible consequences of future climate change on biodiversity,' the paper says. The researchers say the mixed picture that is emerging from previous studies also emphasises a high level of persistence in many communities.

Although over three quarters of the earth's deserts, grasslands, forests and tundra have changed because of human activity, the researchers say that even in this fragmented landscape species are surviving better than was previously predicted. The paper cites more recent studies and concludes that even in altered landscapes 'all is not lost for biodiversity'.

The researchers point to a study into 785 animal species across six continents, which suggests the most important factor for occupancy is the quality of the animals' immediate environment rather than whether their habitat is shrinking. Their paper also highlights a study of forest butterflies in West Africa, which found that despite an 87 per cent reduction in forest cover, 97 per cent of species are still present.

Professor Kathy Willis, from the School for Geography and the Environment, expresses some caution about the apparent ability of species to survive in a more fragmented habitat. She said: 'Presence or absence does not take into account lag effects of declining populations. Therefore, a more worrying interpretation is that the full effects of fragmentation will only be seen in future years.'

The paper also highlights a serious issue for future conservationists, arguing that the definition of 'natural' is changing fast.

Dr Shonil Bhagwat, from the School of Geography and the Environment, said: 'Although every measure should be put in place to reduce the further fragmentation of reserves, we cannot turn back the clock. We need to determine what represents a "good" intervention to preserve animal habitats in the countryside and in towns and cities. Furthermore, we will increasingly see new ecosystems emerging as a result of climate changes and so what is "natural" is going to require a whole new definition.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Can Biodiversity Persist In The Face Of Climate Change?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106111214.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2009, December 14). Can Biodiversity Persist In The Face Of Climate Change?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106111214.htm
University of Oxford. "Can Biodiversity Persist In The Face Of Climate Change?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106111214.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins