An international group of top biologists led by UConn ecologist Mark Urban 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.
We need to pull on our boots, grab our binoculars, and go back into the field to gather more detailed information if we are going to make realistic predictions. — Mark Urban
Current prediction models 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 Sept. 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.
“Right now, we’re treating a mouse the same way as an elephant or a fish or a tree. Yet we know that those are all very different organisms and they are going to respond to their environment in different ways,” says Urban, the Science article’s lead author. “We need to pull on our boots, grab our binoculars, and go back into the field to gather more detailed information if we are going to make realistic predictions.”
The 22 biologists affiliated with the article identify six key types of biological information: life history, physiology, genetic variation, species interactions, dispersal, and response to environmental changes 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 pace.
Current climate change predictions for biodiversity draw on broad statistical correlations and can vary widely, making it difficult for policymakers and others to respond accordingly. Many of those predictions tend not to hold up over time if they fail to account for the full range of biological factors that can influence an organism’s survival rate: species demographics, competition from other organisms, species mobility, and the capacity to adapt and evolve.
“We haven’t been able to sufficiently determine what species composition future ecosystems will have,” says co-author Karin Johst of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. “This is because current ecological models often do not include important biological processes and mechanisms: so far only 23 percent of the reviewed studies have taken into account biological mechanisms.”
Generating more accurate predictions is essential for global conservation efforts. Many species are already moving to higher ground or toward the poles to seek cooler temperatures as global temperatures rise. But the capacity of different organisms to survive varies greatly. Some species of frog, for instance, can traverse their terrain for miles to remain in a habitable environment. Other species, such as some types of salamander, are less mobile and are capable of moving only a few meters over generations.
“New Zealand’s strong foundation in ecological research will help,” explains study co-author William Godsoe, a Lincoln University lecturer and member of New Zealand’s Bio-Protection Research Centre. “One of our hopes is to build on these strengths and highlight new opportunities to improve predictions by explicitly considering evolution, interactions among species, and dispersal.” This will aid in the development of strategies to manage impacts on species and ecosystems before they become critical.
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 biologists 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 Urban, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UConn. 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.”
The Latest on: Climate change predictions for biodiversity
via Google News
The Latest on: Climate change predictions for biodiversity
- Recent drought may provide a glimpse of the future for birds in the Sierra Nevada on February 21, 2019 at 1:04 pm
How wildlife respond to climate change is likely to be complex ... forest managers should consider this potentially important biodiversity when developing management responses like salvage ... […]
- How African culture is evolving with climate change on February 18, 2019 at 11:16 am
The rainmakers, who wisely read nature before making a prediction ... which are a signature of climate change. African herbal medicine has been crushed by the upscaling of biodiversity loss, besides b... […]
- The view from the bottleneck: Is nature poised for a big comeback? on February 18, 2019 at 6:41 am
The scientists are by no means denying the current dire reports about wildlife and biodiversity ... brunt of [climate change] but also because they are feeling power.” Still, any prediction ... […]
- Study Predicts Demise of Insects within Decades if Pesticide Dependence Continues on February 11, 2019 at 8:14 pm
(Beyond Pesticides, February 11, 2019) A new systematic review of insect population studies worldwide reports on “the dreadful state of insect biodiversity in the ... land use conversion and climate c... […]
- Climate change will make QLD’s ecosystems unrecognisable – it’s up to us if we want to stop that on November 11, 2018 at 11:09 am
Climate change and those whose job it is to talk about current and future climate impacts are often classed as the “harbingers of doom”. For the world’s biodiversity, the predictions are grim - loss o... […]
- Beyond Predictions: Biodiversity Conservation in a Changing Climate on April 4, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Climate change is predicted to become a major threat to biodiversity in the 21st century, but accurate predictions and effective solutions have proved difficult to formulate. Alarming predictions have ... […]
- Opinion: Some predictions for the coming year on January 19, 2017 at 10:07 pm
After 2016’s wild ride in politics, science, sports, and entertainment, no one in their right mind would dare venture predictions for 2017 ... avoid using the word “trump” — as in, “Climate-change den... […]
- Vital improvements needed to forecast impact of climate change on biodiversity on September 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm
Improvements must be made to how we predict the impact of climate change on plants and wildlife ... to gather much-needed biological information that will make climate change forecasts for biodiversit... […]
- Forecasting climate change's effects on biodiversity hindered by lack of data on September 8, 2016 at 11:44 am
An international group of biologists is calling for data collection on a global scale to improve forecasts of how climate change affects animals and plants. Accurate model predictions can greatly aid ... […]
via Bing News