Nav: Home

Climate change to overtake land use as major threat to global biodiversity

June 19, 2018

Climate change will have a rapidly increasing effect on the structure of global ecological communities over the next few decades, with amphibians and reptiles being significantly more affected than birds and mammals, a new report by UCL finds.

The pace of change is set to outstrip loss to vertebrate communities caused by land use for agriculture and settlements, which is estimated to have already caused losses of over ten per cent of biodiversity from ecological communities.

Previous studies have suggested that ecosystem function is substantially impaired where more than 20 per cent of species are lost; this is estimated to have occurred across over a quarter of the world's surface, rising to nearly two thirds when roads are taken into account.

The new study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that the effects of climate change on ecological communities are predicted to match or exceed land use in its effects on vertebrate community diversity by 2070.

The findings suggest that efforts to minimise human impact on global biodiversity should now take both land use and climate change into account instead of just focusing on one over the other, as the combined effects are expected to have significant negative effects on the global ecosystem.

Study author, Dr Tim Newbold (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment), said: "This is the first piece of research looking at the combined effects of future climate and land use change on local vertebrate biodiversity across the whole of the land surface, which is essential when considering how to minimise human impact on the local environment at a global scale.

"The results show how big a role climate change is set to play in decreasing levels of biodiversity in the next few decades and how certain animal groups and regions will be most affected."

Dr Newbold's research has found that vertebrate communities are expected to lose between a tenth and over a quarter of their species locally as a result of climate change.

Furthermore, when combined with land use, vertebrate community diversity is predicted to have decreased substantially by 2070, with species potentially declining by between 20 and nearly 40 per cent.

The effect of climate change varies around the world. Tropical rainforests, which have seen lower rates of conversion to human use than other areas, are likely to experience large losses as a result of climate change. Temperate regions, which have been the most affected by land use, stand to see relatively small biodiversity changes from future climate change, while tropical grasslands and savannahs are expected to see strong losses as a result of both climate change and land use.
-end-


University College London

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".